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Class 3 SO Book 

State Library 

* JUNH ]m 

©riental S^ertcs 

lAmited to Seven hundred fifty numbered andjreffiatered copies 
of which this is No. 

lumbered andre 


J A P A N 




Volume III 




831 YT 3 8a/IAlAl 


Volume III 


CoPyKIGHT, ig02 




[w . D ■ o] 

» > > ■> '> > ' > ' 




Refinements and Pastimes of the Military 

Epoch {Continued) I 


Refinements and Pastimes of the Military 

Epoch (Continued) 49 


The Early Tokugawa Times 87 


Middle Period of the Tokugawa 131 


Later Period of the Tokugawa . . . . . 158 


The Fall of the Tokugawa 198 

Appendix 251 

f r € ' 
c r c < 



Japanese Types Frontispiece 

Interior of the Imperial Palace, Kyoto 32 

Ceremony on the Arrival and Departure of a Guest . 64 
Yoshitsune's Helmet (Iron); Twelfth Century ... 96 

Nakajima, Nagasaki 128 

The Graves of the "Forty-seven Ronin" . . . . 192 



Chapter I 


jk NOTHER aristocratic amusement of the 
/% MiUtary epoch was the comparing of 
/ %^ incenses" [Ko-awase). This particular 
product of Japanese civilisation has 
hitherto evoked only ridicule from the few 
foreign writers who have made any reference to 
it.^ Apparently it presented itself to them under 
no guise except that of a frivolous game, designed 
to test the delicacy of men's sense of smell by re- 
quiring them to distinguish between the aromas 
of various kinds of incense. Even when thus in- 
terpreted, the pastime is not more childish than 
many of the diversions that hold the attention of 
grown persons at social reunions in Europe and 
America. But the Ko-awase was not merely a 

^ See Appendix, note i . 

VOL. III. — I I 


question of smelling incense : it was a literary 
pursuit, designed in great part for testing the 
players' knowledge of classical poetry and their 
ability to apply the knowledge. Burning incense 
had been fashionable in Japan long before the 
Military epoch. As early as the seventh cen- 
tury, the names of twenty-four varieties of fra- 
grant wood were known and used, the prince of 
them all being ranjatai, a quantity of which was 
imported by the Emperor Shomu (724—748) and 
placed in the temple Todai-ji. After the estab- 
lishment of the military administration at Kama- 
kura, it became the custom that each Shoguriy on 
receipt of his patent from the Throne, should 
repair to the temple, and cut off a small portion 
of the incense for his own use. The celebrated 
Ashikaga chief, Takauji, performed this cere- 
mony with much state, and even the bluff soldier 
Oda Nobunaga did not neglect it. Not yet, how- 
ever, had the pastime of " listening to incense " 
— a devotee never spoke of" smelling " or " sniff- 
ing " but always of" listening " — been elaborated 
into the form afterwards so fashionable. Shino 
Soshin, who flourished at the beginning of the 
sixteenth century, is regarded as the " father " of 
the pursuit, but it had undoubtedly received a 
great impulse from that king of dilettante, Ashi- 
kaga Yoshimasa, and his proteges Shuko and 
Soami, the founders of the tea cult. Now, for 
the first time, compound incenses began to be 
manufactured, so that the disciples of the Shino 


school recognised sixty-six distinct kinds, all dis- 
tinguished by names derived from literary allu- 
sions. A great authority of later times alleged 
that the use of compound incenses was confined 
to the Court aristocracy, military men always 
preferring a simple kind ; but that rule seems to 
have received only limited recognition. Briefly 
stated, the outlines of the pastime were these. 
Three varieties of incense were taken and divided 
into three parcels each. A fourth kind was then 
added, making ten packets. This method of 
division was so invariable that the game came to 
be designated by the term Jisshu-ko, or " ten va- 
rieties of incense." The units of each subdivided 
group were numbered from one to three, and 
each group was indicated by one of the names 
" plum," " pine," " bamboo," " cherry," snow," 
or " moon," but the supplementary, or undivided, 
incense received invariably the title of " guest." 
The players having been formed into parties, a 
stick from each of the subdivided groups of in- 
cense was placed in a censer and passed round to 
be " listened to " by way of trial, the name being 
declared, but the " guest incense " was never tried. 
Thereafter portions were taken from each group 
indiscriminately, and the players had to identify 
the names by the aroma only, writing down the 
result of their identification. The most accurate 
identifications constituted a partial title to victory, 
but to each incense a literary name had to be 
given in addition to its identification, and by the 



erudition and ideality displayed in choosing names 
the contest was ultimately decided. For example, 
each side having made a correct identification, 
one was found to have chosen the name " moon- 
light on a couch ; " the other that of "water from 
the hill," the former being derived from the 

When autumn's wind breathes 

Chill and lone my chamber through, 

And night grows aged, 

Dark shadows of the moonlight. 

Cast athwart my couch, 

Sink deep into my being; 

while the second was taken from the verse. 

Stream with scented breast 

From flower-robed hills that flowest, 

Here thy burden lay. 

Thy freight of perfumed dew-drops 

Sipped from sweet chrysanthemum. 

Between these two names the judgment was 
that, concerning the second, it was comparatively 
commonplace, the scent of flowers being an 
every-day simile in praising incense ; whereas the 
first, while its derivation had no material allusion 
to anything suggestive of incense-burning, con- 
veyed a rarely forcible idea of the profoundly 
penetrating influence of a fine aroma. Victory, 
then, went to the first. Sometimes the names 
were not necessarily taken from classical litera- 
ture but were invented by the players. Thus, 



at a contest in Yoshimasa's Silver Pavilion, one 
side chose the name " flowers of the Law," the 
other " sanderling ; " and the judgment was that 
though the flight of the sanderling across the 
chill skies of winter and its plaintive voice in- 
duce reflections on the uncertainty of life, the 
expression " flowers of the Law " at once inclines 
the heart towards the all-merciful Buddha and 
fills the soul with pure yearning. The verdict, 
then, was in favour of the latter. One more 
illustration may be given. At another contest 
the names selected were " myriad-fenced " and 
" Miyoshi moor," the former having the signifi- 
cation " primal verse," since the earliest couplet 
on record in Japan contained the word " myriad- 
fenced," and the latter being an indirect allusion 
to the cherry-blossom for which Miyoshi is 
famous. The judgment was that an ancient 
couplet could not be supposed to retain its per- 
fume, whereas the cherries of Yoshino were even 
then scenting the sunbeams. 

Even this brief notice shows that the pastime 
signified a great deal more than the mere smell- 
ing of different kinds of incense. It may be 
regarded as supplementary to the couplet-com- 
posing compositions {uta-aivase) mentioned in a 
previous chapter, the one being intended to test 
original literary ability, the other to determine 
literary knowledge. Every social usage that has 
grown to maturity in Japan shows traces of elab- 
orate care bestowed on it by generation after 



generation of refined practice. The incense pas- 
time illustrates that fact almost as strikingly as 
the tea cult. It may be said to have a literature 
of its own. Volumes have been compiled setting 
forth the exact principles that should be observed 
in the competition and explaining the numerous 
modifications that the game underwent from time 
to time. The various incenses were divided into 
groups according to the seasons. Thus for spring 
there were the " white plum incense," the " aged 
plum," the " blossom and snow," etc. ; for sum- 
mer, the flower petal," the " green plum," 
the iris," the " orange," etc. ; for autumn, 
the "waning moon," the "maple leaf," the 
" Weaver " (Vega), the " double chrysanthe- 
mum," etc. ; and for winter, the " evening rain," 
the "early plum," the "first snow," the "frosty 
night," and so on. Then there were incenses 
suggesting love — the " arm pillow," the " wak- 
ing from sleep," the "sweet face," the "dishev- 
elled hair," etc. ; there were miscellaneous in- 
censes, — the "smoke of Fuji," the beautiful 
" Yokihi," the "myriad fences," — and there 
were many incenses called after famous places. 
The pastime itself took various forms, each of 
them deriving its name from some recondite 
motive. For example : the anchorite Kisen, 
who lived on Mount Mimaro beside the Uji 
River, composed a thousand poems and threw 
nine hundred and ninety-nine of them into the 
stream, finding one alone worthy of preservation. 



This idea of infinite eclecticism suggested the 
name JJji-yama (Mount Uji) for a special kind of 
incense competition. Again, it had been from 
time immemorial an aristocratic amusement that 
ladies should go in search of flowers peeping 
through the snow on the plains of Kasuga and 
Sagano. Hence the identification of certain in- 
censes having the names of early wild flowers 
written on their envelopes, was called " little 
flower incense." Another quaint variety was 
the ** small birds incense," in which, instead 
of identifying incenses by numbers, they were 
indicated by duplicated syllables in a bird's name. 
Thus, if the second and third specimens in a group 
had been detected by the " listener," he wrote 
hototogisu (nightingale), because the same syl- 
lable, to^ occurs in the second and third numbers 
of the word. If the specimens detected were 
the third and fourth, he wrote ishitataki (wag- 
tail), the duplication of ta giving the indication, 
and so on. There were also two variants of the 
game, called the Gem-pei (Minamoto and Taira) 
and the "horse race" incenses, each of which 
proceeded exactly after the manner of the West- 
ern " race game," a successful identification being 
marked by the advance of a flag or a puppet 
through a certain number of squares towards the 
goal. Many others might be described, but it 
will be enough to add that there was a minute 
code of etiquette to be observed in conduct- 
ing the pastime ; that even here the ubiquitous 



" Book of Changes " made its appearance, the 
order of the male and female principles being 
strictly observed, and that the implements used 
in preparing and burning incense were of the 
most exquisite workmanship and costliest mate- 
rial. There are no finer specimens of lacquer to 
be found than the boxes in which were kept the 
censers, miniature chopping-blocks, mallets and 
knives; tiny tongs and spatula of gold or silver; 
elaborately chiselled silver stands for the in- 
struments ; marking-board of silver, gold, and 
vermilion lacquer, or of finely carved mother- 
of-pearl, and envelopes of illuminated paper. 
Incredible sums were paid for a choice set of 
implements in a rare box. The censer, above all, 
attracted attention. It might be of gold, or of 
iron inlaid with gold or silver, or of porcelain. 
The most highly prized of all kinds was celadon 
of the peculiar tint known as the greenish blue 
seen between the clouds after rain in summer — 
the u-kuDo-tien-tsing of the Chinese yo-yao. One 
of these tiny vessels, named the " sanderling 
censer," because its delicate colour recalled the 
plaintive note of that bird flying across winter 
moonlight, was in the possession of the Taiko 
and enjoyed the credit of protecting him against 
all danger. On another censer of the same ware 
Tokugawa lyeyasu borrowed a sum of ten thou- 
sand pieces of gold to meet a sudden need. 

The Kb-awasa had its frivolous aspects, of 
course ; it would not otherwise have been a 



game. But some credit may be claimed for a 
society which occupied itself with such refined 
pastimes rather than with roulette, faro, or 

Another remarkable outcome of the Military 
epoch was the art of flower arrangement. The 
name applied to it, ike-bana, or " living flower," 
explains at once the fundamental principle of the 
art ; namely, that the flowers must be so ar- 
ranged as to suggest the idea of actual life, — 
must look as though they were growing, not as 
though they had been cut from their stems. In 
the Occident flowers, whether grouped in bou- 
quets or placed in vases, are disposed with a 
unique view to colour effect. They are crushed 
together in glowing masses, delighting the bar- 
baric sense of colour but preserving no sem- 
blance of the conditions of their living existence. 
From a decorative point of view the Western 
method has much to recommend it. But its 
scope is narrow, and when compared with the 
art as practised in Japan, the great advantages of 
the latter are necessarily recognised. The Jap- 
anese considers that the beauty of a plant or a 
tree is not derived from its blossoms more than 
from the manner of their growth. The curve 
of a bough, the bend of a stalk, has for him a 
charm equal to that presented by the shape of 
the petal and the tint of the blossoms. Hence 
in arranging flowers he seeks to retain all the 
graces that they possess in their natural condi- 



tion. His grouping of them is a composition 
wherein Hnear effects are as much studied as 
colour harmonies. It is not necessary, indeed, 
that colour should enter into the scheme at all, 
except in so far as it enters into every natural 
picture. A tree's foliage may be regarded as its 
flowers, and not the least beautiful productions 
of the ike-bana deal solely with branches and 
leaves. This art is essentially Japanese. A 
Buddhist origin has been attributed to it by some, 
on the ground that the idea of preserving the 
living aspect of a flower is derived from the 
Buddhist veto against taking life. Such an ex- 
planation seems fanciful and far-fetched. It is 
true that vases containing sprays of lotus formed 
an essential element in the altar furniture of 
Buddhist temples, and that such decorative 
objects, having been entirely absent from Shinto 
paraphernalia may have been introduced to the 
Japanese for the first time by the propagandists 
of Buddhism. That hypothesis is confirmed by 
examination of the floral compositions attributed 
to Prince Shotoku and the religious teachers of 
the seventh and eighth centuries. They show 
all the essentially non-Japanese features of the 
art, being, in short, sprays and boughs symmet- 
rically disposed on either side of a central 
standard. The floral compositions of Indian, 
Persian, and Grecian decorative art obey the 
same rule, symmetry by equipoise ; whereas the 
fundamental principle of Japanese decorative art, 



as well as of Japanese floral arrangement, is 
symmetry by suggestion. What the Buddhists 
imported from India was a method based on 
equality of distribution. What the Japanese 
themselves conceived was a method based on bal- 
ance of inequalities. There can be little doubt 
that the conception was derived from close obser- 
vation of nature's fashions, and that the wide 
vogue its practice attained was due primarily to the 
bonsai cult, which, as already described, grew out 
of the great aesthetic movement of the fifteenth 
century. It is, indeed, to the celebrated painter 
Soami, whose name is so closely connected with 
that movement, that the Japanese attribute the 
new departure, and it was at the Silver Pavilion, 
where the cults, of the Cha-no-Tu and the Ko- 
awase may be said to have been evolved, that 
the art of ike-bana received its first great develop- 
ment. But though the theory and something 
of the practice were due to Soami, his pupil, a 
priest named Ikenobo, is justly credited with 
having elaborated the principles and canons of 
the art into something like an exact science. 
Thereafter many men of taste made contribu- 
tions to the cult, until finally it came to possess 
a code of its own, accurate and consistent, but 
not without disfigurement of excessive detail. 
Here, too, as in the case of landscape gardening, 
the philosophy of the yang and the ying, the 
male and the female principles, obtruded it- 
self ; not with any transcendental significance, 

1 1 


however, but merely for the purpose of extend- 
ing even to flower arrangement the applica- 
tion of the law that nature delights in balance, 
and that she contrives it primarily by the asso- 
ciation of correlated pairs. If the study of 
Japanese ike-bana be approached with a con- 
stant recollection of its basic rule, namely, 
that a state of vigorous vitality and actual 
growth must always be simulated, the elab- 
orations of the art became easy to comprehend. 
Evidently the first requirement of such a rule 
is that the floral or leafy sprays should spring 
naturally and strongly from the vase containing 
them, and out of that necessity there grew vari- 
ous forms of " holder," as well as a series of 
directions for adapting each arrangement of 
flowers or branches to the shape of the vase and 
to its position in a room. Following the indica- 
tions of nature, the next point was to determine 
what combinations of plants or flowers were 
permissible, and also to fix those appropriate for 
each reason. Here, however, the influence of 
tradition and even of superstition made itself 
felt, lucky or unlucky attributes being assigned 
to certain flowers and trees, partly in conse- 
quence of historical or mythological associations, 
and partly because of poisonous properties sup- 
posed to belong to them. Every one having 
even a passing acquaintance with Japanese dec- 
orative art is familiar with the trio, pine, 
bamboo, and plum, so often found in combination 



and so perennially beautiful and harmonious ; but 
without special study of the ike-bana cult it 
could not be inferred that there is an exact 
list of proper combinations and improper com- 
binations, and that the flowers appropriate for 
occasions of congratulation in each month of 
the year as well as for all ceremonials, social, 
religious, sad, or joyful, are exactly catalogued. 
Another consideration governing combinations 
was that " strong " sprays (trees) must not be 
placed on either side of " weak " (plants), or 
vice versuy because, in the first place, such com- 
positions would show mathematical symmetry, 
and, in the second, they would violate the true 
principles of natural balance. A still more 
important law was that of lineal distribution. 
It has been well said that " the floral decorations 
of Japan are synthetic designs in line, in which 
every individual stem, flower, and leaf stands 
out distinctly silhouetted.^ Appreciation of 
lineal grace seems, indeed, to be a specially 
developed faculty among the Japanese. Evi- 
dences of it are displayed in every branch of 
their art, and it found expression from the first 
in the ike-bana science. Three-lined, five-lined, 
and seven - lined compositions were designed, 
forming what may be called the skeletons of 
all arrangements. The directions and inter- 
relations of their curves were carefully mapped 
out ; their relative lengths were approximately 

* See Appendix, note z. 


determined so as to secure harmonious balance, 
and explicit vetoes were formulated against 
faults of interference, confusion, entanglement, 
or parallelism. As for receptacles, they were 
in themselves a science. Mr. Conder describes 
and depicts no less than forty-six varieties of 
bamboo vases alone, each of which has a distinct 
appellation and a definitely approved shape. 
Then there were bronze vases, porcelain vases, 
pottery vases, basket vases, boat vases, bell-vases, 
wooden vases, bucket vases, chariot vases, sus- 
pended vases, standing vases, umbrella vases, 
margin vases, hooked vases, flower horses, and 
flower cabinets, each having its appropriate 
varieties of floral arrangement. The scope of 
the art is well illustrated in the case of the 
boat vase, which, according to the description 
of the sprays placed in it, was made to represent 
a homeward-bound ship, an outward-bound ship, 
a ship-in-port, a swiftly-sailing ship, or a branch- 
laden ship. It will readily be supposed that 
attention had to be paid to environment in 
designing a floral composition. Every article 
and every part of a Japanese chamber is regarded 
as a co-operative element in a general scheme 
of decoration, and each must enhance the value 
of the rest. Hence a vase of floral or leaf sprays 
standing or hanging in an alcove is required to 
harmonise with the picture hanging beside it, 
and even to be in accord with the landscape 
presented by the nearest portion of the garden 


refinements: and pastimes 

outside. There is also a philosophy of the art. 
It is supposed to educate certain moral qualities 
in those that practise it sincerely ; to wean them 
from earthly thoughts ; to lighten the burdens 
of life ; to impart gentleness and courtesy to 
the demeanour, and to purge the heart of 
selfishness. It has its rival schools, and some 
of them have sought to win credit by imparting 
esoteric elements into their methods. But such 
things are mere unessential mannerisms, entirely 
distinct from the cult itself. 

To these refinements of life specially developed 
in the Military epoch may be added those be- 
queathed from previous ages, — flower-viewing 
at all seasons, even in winter, when, by a pretty 
fancy, the snow was regarded as the bloom of the 
time and the "silvered world" became a land- 
scape garden ; moonlight picnics in autumn ; pull- 
ing young pines at the New Year ; fishing with 
hand-nets ; mushroom-picking parties ; maple 
gathering ; go ; chess ; couplet composing ; foot- 
ball, and so forth. Foot-ball merits special notice, 
for it attained extraordinary vogue. It had the 
honour of being classed with poetry-writing as 
one of the *' two ways," and noblemen took as 
much pride in excelling in it as ever Anglo-Saxon 
youths did in gaining fame at cricket or base- 
ball. Great families, families which enjoyed an 
hereditary title to such offices as councillor of 
State and minister of justice, constituted them- 
selves professional instructors of the art, and the 


enclosure of the office of Public Roads was as- 
signed by the Imperial Court as a foot-ball ground. 
It will readily be inferred from what has been 
already written about the cults of the C/ia-no-Tu, 
the Kb-awase and the Ike-bana^ that the pastime 
of kicking a ball came to have its exact rules and 
even its esoteric mysteries, the latter extravagances 
being inventions of rival schools which sought to 
win popularity by appealing to the superstitions 
of the time. The ordinary foot-ball ground of 
orthodox kickers took the form of a square, its 
side either twelve, sixteen, or twenty-four yards, 
and at its four corners a pine-tree, a bamboo, a 
maple, and a willow were planted. If these di- 
mensions were exceeded, six pine-trees replaced 
the varieties just mentioned. Two noble fam- 
ilies, however, special repositories of the arcana 
of the game, enjoyed the estimable privilege of 
setting up a pine-tree and a post at each corner, 
and of enclosing the ground with a fence of 
crossed bamboos. A code of minute regulations 
governed the apparel of the players, — robes, head- 
gear, sandals, stockings, and fans, — and another 
code indicated the proper postures of the body, — - 
the movements of the hands, the paces of the 
feet, the expression of the face ; the pose of 
the hips ; the spread of the step ; the recover ; the 
side kick ; the fore kick ; the separate kick ; the 
extra-tree kick ; the numerical kick, and the in- 
definite kick — all were clearly prescribed. In 
short, foot-ball became a cult, and even the 



physical strength that it demanded was decorously 
and elegantly exercised. 

Gambling, which in the Nara and Heian 
epochs had been regarded as a somewhat vulgar 
pastime, prevailed extensively under the Military 
regimen. From the General officer to the trans- 
port coolie, almost every one was addicted to this 
vice. Usually dice were employed, but some- 
times shells took their place, the hazard depend- 
ing upon the faces exposed by the shells when 
thrown. Money was wagered also upon the 
game of go, and it is recorded that the ranks of 
the vagabond and burglar classes received large 
accessions, owing to the ruin which constantly 
overtook devotees of these various games. An 
attempt made by the Kamakura rulers at the 
zenith of their power, in the middle of the thir- 
teenth century, failed to check the abuse, and at 
a later period the samurai fell into the habit of 
staking their arms, armour, and horse-trappings 
on a cast of the dice, so that men would go into 
battle with helmets and no cuirasses, or in partial 
panoply without swords. Finally (in the middle 
of the fourteenth century), the vice prevailed so 
extensively that a fully equipped soldier, from 
the medium grade downward, was rarely seen in 
the fight. One effect of the abuse was that men 
began to think robbery more respectable and less 
dangerous than going into battle with deficient 
arms or armour. They took what they wanted 
wherever they could find it, and presently the 

VOL. III. 2 Y-J 


right of property received so little respect that 
articles not in their possession were staked by- 
gamblers, the loser pledging himself to steal 
them. Even the storehouses of temples and 
shrines were not safe against raids by unsuccess- 
ful gamesters, though not infrequently the winner 
of a sum of money sought to make reparation for 
previous acts of lawlessness by employing his gains 
to build or furnish a store for the sometime vic- 
tim of his burglary. It has to be noted in partial 
extenuation of this disorderly conduct, that it was 
due, in some degree, to the contempt entertained 
by the military class for the other orders of the 
people, and that the priests, by their violence and 
extortion during the Heian epoch, had conferred 
on the men of the Military age a kind of right 
of retaliation. A samurai never thought of help- 
ing himself to the belongings of a comrade. He 
obeyed the theory that all sections of the nation 
were bound to contribute to the support of the 
military man, and that the highest codes of 
honour and integrity had binding force in the 
intercourse of military men only. 

Singing and dancing were as much loved by 
the soldier in the provinces as they had ever been 
by the courtier in the capital. But there came 
into vogue now a new application of the former 
art ; a kind of musical recitative, which never 
thereafter ceased to be popular. A Buddhist 
priest of the Tendai sect — Shinano Zenji Yuki- 
naga — composed a prose epic based on the for- 




tunes of the great Taira family, and taught it to 
one Shobutsu, a Biwa bonze [Biwa-bozUy priest 
from Biwa), as blind players of the four-stringed 
Chinese lute were called; not that they were really 
bonzes, but merely because they shaved their heads 
after the manner of Buddhist priests. Yukinaga 
naturally instructed the lutist to adopt the manner 
of intonation practised by the priests of the 
Tendai sect in reading the Sutras or repeating 
litanies, and there resulted a recitative to which 
the name Heike-bushi [Xmwq of the House of Hei) 
was given. The soldier class took keen pleasure 
in listening to this entertainment, and gradually 
the repertoire of the blind lute-player was ex- 
tended so as to include stirring episodes of 
military history in every age. The Biwa-bozu 
exhibited great skill alike in the modulation of 
his voice, the excellence of his elocution, and the 
reality of his simulated passion. He could hold 
an audience in rapt attention and move it to tears 
as well as to laughter. 

Closely resembling the performance of the 
Biwa-bozu so far as method was concerned, but 
differing from it in the nature of the subject of 
the recitative as well as in the instrument em- 
ployed, was the Jdruri. This is said to have 
been originated by Ono no O-tsu, a lady in the 
household of either Oda Nobunaga or the Taiko, 
who recited the story of Yoshitsune's light of 
love, 'Joruri, accompanying herself with the sami- 
sen. Thus while the lutist took his subject from 



warlike annals, the Joruri performer chose events 
from every-day life, singing some parts and re- 
citing others, the recitation being, of course, 
without music. The Joruri won the nation's 
heart at once, and soon had numerous professors, 
both male and female, of whom the most cele- 
brated devised new styles and gave distinguishing 
names to them. The Biwa-bozu always recited 
from memory, and the stirring passages of the 
subject were delivered in a manner bearing much 
resemblance to the *' patter " songs of modern 
Europe and America, the lute's rapid shower of 
notes being poured out so as to punctuate the 
passage of the recitative rather than to accom- 
pany them. This was pre-eminently the martial 
music of Japan, and continues to be so, partly 
because deeds of bravery and devotion have always 
been the theme of the song, partly because a 
strain of rattle and dash infuses the whole per- 
formance. The Joruri appeals rather to plaintive 
and pitiful moods. Many of its passages are tear- 
ful, and the singer is expected to simulate emo- 
tions not permitted to the Biwa-bozu. A score 
containing a species of musical notation as well 
as the words of the Joruri is placed before the 
performer on a lectern, and the samisen is tuned 
in a low minor key. It may be noted that both 
the Biwa-bozu and the Joruri performer often 
sing from the chest, instead of limiting them- 
selves to the head-voice usually characteristic of 
Japanese singing. The lutist is frequently blind, 



but a blind Joruri performer would be out of 

An important fact connected with the Military 
epoch is that it saw the beginnings of the histri- 
onic art in Japan. There is some obscurity about 
this point, but the most accurate researches go to 
show that the embryo of the Japanese drama is 
to be found in the Den-gaku, or " bucolic mime," 
reference to which has already been made. The 
Den-gaku suggested spectacular effects, and the 
dramatic idea was derived from the various kinds 
of song and dance described above, the spirited 
epics of the Biwa-bozu ; the tragic recitative of 
the 'Joruri performer ; the genre sonnets (ima-yo) 
and semi-poetical chaunts {mono-gat art) of the 
"white measure-markers;" and the Buddhist 
"life-lengthening dance" {yennen-mai)^ in which 
a fan-bearing acolyte postured while friars beat 

It seems impossible to trace the exact processes 
by which a true drama was evolved from these 
elements, but there is little room to doubt that 
Buddhist priests first conceived the project of 
combining the spectacular effects of the Den-gaku 
with the emotional appeals of the various musical 
and recitative performances in vogue from the 
thirteenth century downward. Unfortunately 
there does not survive even one clearly identified 
example of a Den-gaku performance thus modi- 
fied. The Den-gaku, as tradition describes it and 
as the national memory recalls it, was simply a 



display of acrobatic feats. Popular patois, more 
retentive than history, applies the name Den-gaku 
to a rectangular slice of bean-curd having a 
skewer thrust through it from end to end, be- 
cause a cake thus transfixed is supposed to re- 
semble a Den-gaku gymnast mounted on a single 
stilt. By the Hojo rulers in Kamakura, however, 
the Den-gaku, even before it had emerged from 
its acrobatic stage, was generously patronised. 
The Taiheikiy a celebrated work, part history, part 
romance, compiled in the fourteenth century, 
contains a unique but brief account of the Den- 
gaku as performed at Kamakura before the 
Buddhist priests had interfered to change it from 
a musical and spectacular display of gymnastic 
exercises to an artistic and dramatic representa- 
tion : — 

The pure tones of the music ringing in the ears of 
the audience, the drums beating blithely and the flute 
sounding the cadence, there emerge from the eastern 
orchestra-room eight beautifully apparelled youths, 
wearing tunics of gold brocade. Simultaneously eight 
tonsured youths, robed in pure white tunics decorated 
with designs of flowers and birds lightly traced in gold, 
and wearing voluminous ankle-gathered trousers with a 
variegated pattern in silver, flash into sight from the 
Western room, beating out the measure and swaying 
their broad hats in unison. Then, led respectively by 
Ako of the Honza and Hikoyasha of the Shinza, they 
play with daggers and balls, showing such divine skill 
that eyes and ears alike of the audience are astounded. 
This display ended, a boy of eight or nine, wearing a 



monkey mask and holding a sacred wand [gohei) on 
high, crosses the steeply arched bridge diagonally from 
the orchestra-room of the Shinza, and springing upon 
the high railing, spins round to the right, spins round 
to the left, leaps down and leaps up again, with such 
grace and agility as to seem more than mortal. 

This is merely a refined exhibition of dancing 
and acrobatics, distinguished, however, from any 
previous performances by the fact that a regular 
stage was provided. Exactly how the Buddhist 
priests proceeded to introduce the innovations 
attributed to them, history and tradition alike are 
silent. But it was natural that after the union 
of Shinto and Buddhism, the representatives of 
the latter should pay some attention to dancing, 
for an essential part of Shinto worship had always 
been the Kagura, a dance derived, as already 
stated, from the mythical performance of the 
Celestial Deities before the cave of the Sun God- 
dess ; and it was equally natural that while their 
shrewd eclecticism enabled the Buddhist monks 
to detect the dramatic and spectacular possibili- 
ties of the chaunts and recitative of the "white 
measure-marker," the Biwa-bozu and the 'Joruri 
experts, their literary ability should have helped 
them to work up these materials into a histri- 
onic form. Perhaps the simplest explanation 
is that, seeing the passionate fondness of the 
Japanese people for dance and song, the Bud- 
dhist monks conceived the idea of enlisting those 
agents in the cause of religious propagandism. 



The following is an example of the words they 
put into the mouth of the musician who ac- 
companied the dance : — 

Our days are a dream that fades in the darkness ; 
A hundred years hence who can hope to remain ? 
Empty and vain are all things around us ; 
Where to find permanence who can pretend? 
Life is as foam that flaketh the water, 
Shred by the wild wind and scattered at will ; 
Man's soul like a caged bird the opening awaiteth 
To wing to the skies its foredestined flight 
That which is gone can ne'er be recalled. 
He that departs will come not again ; 
Followeth death after birth in a moment, 
Bloom in an instant by blight is replaced ; 
And for him that in fame and in fortune rejoices, 
Riseth already the smoke of the grave-pyre. 
What travail from hell's doom can purchase evasion ? 
Mammon or moil, can they save from the graved 
Gathereth who by what labour so ceaseless. 
Shall not his sins outnumber his gains ? 
Recall with closed eyes the days that have faded, 
All the old friendships, have they not gone ? 
Count with bent fingers the men that were once here. 
Dear ones and distant, hidden are all. 
Times change and things pass, who shall set limits ? 
One stays and one goes, nothing is safe. 
As flame-shrivelled tinder vanish the three worlds ; ^ 
Angel or anchorite, death's pangs for each. 
Whence then reprieve for common or low-born ? 
Light not their trespass, heavy their pains ; 
Sins they have sowed bear ripe crop of sorrow. 
The tale of their deeds is reckoned in full. 
Brayed in the mortar of hell without pity ; 
^ See Appendix, note 3. 



Hewed into myriads of blood-streaming parts; 
Dying ten thousand deaths daily, yet living ; 
Clutching sharp blades and treading on spears ; 
Shattered and crushed by the rock-piling torture ; 
Writhing in flames that fuse marrow and bone ; 
Choked by the breath of fierce-burning fires ; 
Clasped in the bergs of the frozen blood-sea ; 
Famished, and feeding on fragments of iron ; 
Slaking parched thirst with drafts of lead molten — 
Countless the tortures hell holds for the wicked. 
Shall they be spared that have wittingly sinned ? 
Shall not the demon that dwells in their bosom 
Give them shrewd earnest of sufferings to come ? 
And like frail clouds that float through the moonlight, 
In the after-world life they shall wander distraught. 

In the absence of any rational connection 
between religious chaunts like the above and 
acrobatic performances of the nature of the Den- 
gaku, it seems reasonable to assume that the 
relation between the two did not extend beyond 
the borrowing of the Den-gaku stage and acces- 
sories for the purposes of the Buddhist dance. 
At the same time, the credit of originating a 
stage does not belong to the Den-gaku per- 
formers. Stages for the Kagura dance had 
long existed at many of the principal Shinto 
shrines — three in the province of Ise for the 
Daijin-gu services ; three in Omi for the Hyoshi 
services ; one in Tamba, one in Kawachi and 
one in Settsu for the Sumiyoshi services, and 
four in Nara for the Kasuga services. The 
Den-gaku stage was only a modified form of 



that used for the Kagura, one of the modifica- 
tions being the addition of a bridge with a 
steeply arched roadway on which the acrobats 
commenced their feats as they emerged from 
the orchestra-room. Danced upon this stage 
the Buddhist versions of the Den-gaku assumed 
a statehness and a splendour not previously 
imagined. But they did not obtain more than 
temporary patronage at the Imperial Court. 
Perhaps the favour with which they were viewed 
by the military rulers in Kamakura tended to 
discredit them in Kyoto, but concerning that 
conjecture alone is possible. At all events, the 
Den-gaku was put aside in the Imperial capital, 
and the Saru-gaku (monkey mime) was adopted 
in its place. 

The traditional origin of this curiously named 
dance has already been described, and the various 
theories about the derivation of the name have 
been noted. Whatever be truth as to those 
points, it is certain that up to the time now 
under consideration, namely, the middle of the 
fourteenth century, the Saru-gaku was simply 
a comic dance, and that its character then under- 
went a complete change. The Buddhist monks 
took it up, just as they had taken up the Den- 
gaku, and not only converted it into an instru- 
ment for propagating religious truths, but also 
employed it as a means of obtaining funds for 
charitable purposes. It is to be observed that at 
this time the Buddhist priesthood had virtually 



a monopoly of literary ability, and that such of 
the Kyoto aristocrats as might have disputed that 
title were not less profoundly imbued with 
Buddhist doctrine than the friars themselves. 
Thus the task of compiling new odes or recita- 
tive for dances devolved of necessity on the 
priests, who, to use the words of an eminent 
Japanese author, " saw in the blossoms of sum- 
mer and the red leaves of autumn only types 
of heaven's beauties ; heard in the sigh of the 
wind and the plash of the water only echoes of 
Shaka's voice ; recognised in a mother's love 
for her child only a reflection of Kwannon's 
infinite mercy, and regarded the death of a 
warrior on the battlefield as only a link in the 
great chain of destiny." The inevitable tendency 
of such authors was strengthened by the circum- 
stances amid which they lived, the endless fight- 
ings, bloodshed, and commotions. They thought 
that a grave and softening tone should be 
imparted even to the frivolities of life, and they 
did thoroughly for the Saru-gaku what they 
had already done tentatively for the Den-gaku, — 
transformed it into a religious performance, 
inculcating the instability of life and the vanity 
of all things human. The change in each case 
was radical, — from the spectacular acrobatics 
of the original Den-gaku to the religious recita- 
tive of the later Kamakura performance ; and 
from the broad jests and suggestive antics of the 
" monkey mime " to the stately measure, solemn 



demeanour, and moral teaching of the new 

For the Saru-gaku thus modified became, in 
effect, a drama. Its performers ceased to be 
mere dancers and were converted into actors. 
Even the name Saru-gaku passed out of use, 
being replaced by No ^ (accomplishment), which 
term continues in vogue until to-day. The stage 
for the performance of the new drama was in 
the open air, a platform eighteen feet square, 
having on either side a species of gallery for the 
audience, and in front a more elevated seat for 
any high official or court dignitary that might 
attend. Behind the platform and connected 
with it by an open passage or bridge, stood the 
"green room," and when a performer emerged 
from the green room, he passed first through 
an antechamber where a large round mirror 
stood, and then made his debut upon the bridge, 
commencing his role from that moment just as 
the acrobats of the Den-gaku did. A stage- 
manager had his place in the dressing-room, 
and at the back of the stage were seated a row 
of musicians, numbering from ten to twenty, 
who acted the part of a chorus, accompanying 
the dance with flute and drum, and from time 
to time intoning the words of the drama. The 
costumes were magnificent ; the music was weird 
and slow ; masks modelled with admirable skill 
were worn, and the spectacular effects often 

^ See Appendix, note 4. 




reached a high level of art. It is, indeed, more 
than doubtful whether any other people ever 
developed such an expressive vocabulary of mo- 
tion, such impressive eloquence of gesture. 
These masked dancers of the No, deprived of 
the important assistance of facial expression, and 
limited to a narrow range of cadence, never- 
theless succeeded in investing their performance 
with a character of noble dignity and profound 
intensity of sentiment. Very soon the No ob- 
tained extraordinary vogue. With the sole 
exception of the Emperor himself, every great 
personage took part in the performance ; a stage 
was erected within the precincts of the Palace ; 
costumes of the costliest and most beautiful ma- 
terials were provided, and a collection of such 
garments as well as of masks and other acces- 
sories for the No, was counted an essential part 
of every aristocratic mansion's furniture. By 
degrees the practice of the art became a profes- 
sion, but princes, nobles, and high officials did 
not cease to study it assiduously, and were pre- 
pared at any moment to organise performances 
or to take part in them. It need scarcely be 
said that various schools came into existence. 
At first, although Buddhist priests had taken 
such a large share in developing the No, Shinto 
shrines continued to be the principal scenes of 
its performance, the dance being then a cere- 
mony of worship. But from the days of the 
Ashikaga S/fogun Yoshimitsu (i 368-1 394) it 



underwent popularisation, and without losing 
its moral character, received an extension of 
motive, becoming an adjunct of congratulatory 
or commemorative occasions and even a pure 
diversion. With this change is associated a 
skilled performer (Yusaki) upon whom Yoshi- 
mitsu conferred the name Kwanami. This 
man, as well as his son Seami,^ compiled several 
dramas based upon historical incidents of the 
Kamakura epoch, though the two writers care- 
fully refrained from seeking materials in the 
events of their own time. Buddhist priests also 
continued to contribute to the literature of the 
art, and before the end of the fifteenth century 
some twenty dramas were regarded as the 
classics of the A^^. That prince of dilettante, 
Yoshimasa, who has already been seen extending 
lavish patronage to the tea cult, the incense cult, 
the landscape-garden cult and art in every form, 
gave a new impetus to the No by officially 
declaring it a ceremonious accomplishment of 
military men. He organised the renowned 
dancers into four orders, and enacted that a 
representative of each must repair to Kyoto and 
give a performance there once during his career. 
Naturally that performance became the culmi- 
nation of each great expert's triumph, and the 
*' once-in-a-life No " were conducted on a con- 
spicuously magnificent scale. The Taikb loved 
the No. Several of the best dramas were written 

^ See Appendix, note 5, 



at his suggestion, a new school was started by 
one of his proteges^ and despite his personal dis- 
advantages he took a place enthusiastically on the 
platform. When he attained the post of Regent, 
the highest office within reach of a subject, he 
repaired to the Court and himself performed a 
No dance in the presence of the Emperor. 

The No as here described was solemn and 
stately, the postures and paces as well as the 
drama itself being purged of every comic ele- 
ment, and thus completely differentiated from 
the mimes out of which it had grown. But art 
demanded that the sombreness of such representa- 
tions should be relieved by some lighter scenes, 
and to satisfy that requirement farces were com- 
piled for independent acting between the No. 
These farces [Kyogeri) were essentially of a his- 
trionic character, the dance being omitted alto- 
gether, or entirely subordinated to the action of 
the piece and the dialogue. Many of them 
showed not only humour but wit, and the skill 
of the actors was excellent. The chief and the 
first-assistant performers in the No and the Kyogen 
alike received the title of taiyu, which conferred 
upon them the right to have the curtain of the 
green-room held up by two men for their exits 
or entries, and also rendered them eligible for 
admission to any society. The Kyogen may be 
regarded as a revival of the Saru-gaku from which 
the No was originally evolved. History is silent 
as to the author or circumstances of the revival. 


but since several Kydgen composed in the Ashi- 
kaga era are still extant, it may fairly be concluded 
that the laughter-loving element of Japanese char- 
acter did not long consent to the abolition of the 
comic Saru-gaku. 

The similarity between the No performances 
and the ancient Greek drama has often attracted 
attention. The chorus, the masked actors, the 
religious tone pervading the piece, the stage in 
the open air, — all these features were common 
to the two dramas. But a closer analogy can be 
found without going so far afield. The embryo 
of the Indian drama was a combination of song 
and dance at sacred festivals, just as the Kagura 
was the foundation of the Japanese A^^, and the 
development of the art in India was by narrative 
recitation and subsequently by dialogue, first sung, 
then spoken, just as the stages of progress in Japan 
were the recitative of the tonsured lutist " and 
the '* white measure-marker," followed by the 
sung and spoken dialogue of the No. A further 
point of resemblance is seen in the fact that, while 
the Japanese Kagura was founded on a mythical 
dance performed by the divinities before the cave 
of the Sun Goddess, so the Indian natya is sup- 
posed to have been a dance accompanied by ges- 
ticulation and speech, which was performed by 
the spirits and nymphs of Indra's heaven before 
the gods. Again, in the Indian drama the con- 
nection of the narrative was often preserved by 
interpreters, whose function closely resembled that 



of the chorus in the Japanese Nd^ and both aUke 
being performed in the open courts of palaces or 
temples, artificial scenery was of necessity absent, 
and unity of place became, therefore, an impos- 
sibility, nor was it considered strange that a char- 
acter should make journeys on the stage under 
the eyes of the audience. Further, from both 
dramas exhibitions of what may be called the 
vulgar acts of life were banished : actors did not 
die in public, or eat, or sleep, or make love. 
Displays of that kind were relegated to the region 
of the theatre proper in Japan, and were not 
sanctioned at all on the Indian stage. It may, 
perhaps, be a little forced to draw an analogy 
between the dramatic languages of the two coun- 
tries, yet note may at least be taken of the fact 
that the classical phraseology invariably adopted 
by the Indian dramatists was as far beyond the un- 
derstanding of the majority of a Hindu audience 
as the language of the No was beyond the com- 
prehension of ordinary Japanese spectators. Of 
course there were many differences, especially 
in the matter of construction. For whereas the 
Indian drama opened with a kind of prologue 
and closed with a prayer or benediction, and was 
of necessity divided into a minimum number of 
acts, the Japanese No had neither prologue nor 
apologue, and its division, in the rare cases when 
division was resorted to, obeyed no rule but the 
convenience of the action. Within the space of 

even a one-act No, the unity of time was often con- 
voL. in. — 3 J J 


spicuously neglected, but it need scarcely be said 
that the unities of time and place have lost, in 
modern days, the importance they once possessed 
in the eyes of dramatic critics. 

Considering the close relations that existed be- 
tween the civilisations and literatures of Japan 
and China, the student naturally expects to find 
an easily traced connection between the histrionic 
arts of the two countries. But comparison re- 
veals differences rather than affinities. When it 
has been said that both arose from the union of 
dance and song, their points of resemblance have 
been virtually exhausted. The singing actor, the 
principal figure of the Chinese drama, found no 
counterpart in Japan ; the religious element in 
the former country's art is often mere buffoonery, 
whereas in the latter's it is always reverent ; there 
was no chorus in China nor any open-air stage, 
and the Chinese never made between tragedy and 
comedy the sharp distinction which the Japanese 
drew. Perhaps these comparisons possess little 
value. It may be urged, for example, that what- 
ever similarities seem to exist between the dra- 
matic art of India and that of Japan, they are at 
once conclusively differentiated by the fact that, 
whereas the latter dealt mainly with the tragic 
aspects of life and appealed principally to the 
sentiments of pathos and pity, all fatal or tear- 
ful conclusions were prohibited in the former. 
Nevertheless the analogies certainly possess pass- 
ing interest. 



•Some of the most celebrated of these semi- 
metrical dramas, the No, have been skilfully 
translated into English of purity and grace. But 
the learned sinologues, their translators, by sub- 
stituting the smoothly moving, majestic Iambic 
metre for the short, crisp pulsations of the Jap- 
anese line, and by obeying exigencies of rhyme 
whereas the original demands rhythm only, have 
obtained elegance at the partial expense of fidel- 
ity. An example less elaborated is given here : 


circ. 1485 

Translator's Note. — One of the saddest episodes of 
Japanese history is the fate of the brilliant and chivalrous 
general, Yoshitsune. Yoritomo, the Minamoto Chieftain, when 
(1185) he raised the white flag of his clan against the rival 
house of Taira, and succeeded in overwhelming his enemies 
and establishing a military government in Kamakura, owed his 
successes in the field mainly to the military genius of his younger 
brother, Yoshitsune. But Yoritomo's jealous temperament be- 
coming inflamed against his brother, he readily listened to slan- 
derous charges against Yoshitsune's loyalty, and having failed to 
compass the latter's death secretly, issued orders for his arrest. 
Yoshitsune, beloved by all that had served under him, favoured 
by the Imperial Court in Kyoto, and capable of raising an army 
which his strategic genius must have rendered formidable if not 
invincible, would have obeyed the precedents of his era had he 
drawn the sword against his brother. But his noble nature for- 
bade such a course. Taking with him only eleven men, who 
had followed his fortunes with unswerving fidelity and were 
without exception soldiers of proved prowess, he disguised him- 



self as a_pilgrim friar and escaped northward to Hidehira, chief- 
tain of Oshu, his uncle, who had sheltered him in his early days. 
There he ultimately died by his own hand, when the last of his 
comrades had fallen under the swords of Yoritomo's emissaries. 
The drama h£re translated is based on a celebrated episode of 
the flight to Oshu. Yoritomo established barrier-guards on all 
the roads leading northward, giving them orders to forbid the 
passage of any pilgrim band that answered to the description of 
the fugitives, and, if possible, to apprehend them. One of these 
guard-houses, at Ataka, is the scene of the drama. The giant 
halberdier, Benkei, almost as celebrated in Japanese history as 
Yoshitsune himself, devises a plan to pass the barrier. He dis- 
guises Yoshitsune as the baggage-bearer of the party, and, at a 
critical moment, disarms suspicion by beating him as though he 
were a common coolie; To the barrier-guards it seems in- 
credible that the brilliant young nobleman, with whose exploits 
the whole empire is ringing, should be submitted to such a ter- 
rible indignity, and they allow the pilgrims to pass. The pro- 
found pathos of the notion that Benkei, who had again and 
again risked his life in Yoshitsune's cause, should have beeni 
obliged to raise his hand against the man he loved, and the 
shockingly sacrilegious nature of such conduct on the part of a 
vassal towards his lord, appeal with intense force to the mind 
of every Japanese ; force not to be estimated unless it is re- 
membered that to have thrown himself upon the barrier-guards 
and fallen fighting, would have been an incomparably less pain- 
ful and more orthodox alternative to the loyal halberdier than 
the course he adopted. It was necessary, however, to furnish 
to the captain of the guard some pretext for granting passage 
to the party, and Benkei chose a method for which he afterwards 
offered to apologise by suicide. A particularly dramatic inci- 
dent of the scene at the barrier is Benkei's pretence of reading 
from a sacred record, which, had the party been veritable pilgrim- 
priests, they must have possessed. The captain of the barrier 
calls for the record, and the big soldier, producing an itinerary 
scroll, reads some extemporised passages from it in a thunderous 
voice, his coolness and presence of mind carrying him through 
an ordeal where the smallest hesitation or confusion would have 
involved death. 



Scene. — T^he barrier guard-house at Ataka. 

ToGASHi [lyenawo, whose title is 'Togashi-no-suke). 
I am Togashi. Yoritomo and Yoshitsune, having 
become foes, and Yoritomo having learned that Lord 
Hangwan [Toshitsune, commonly called Hangwan) and 
his eleven followers, adopting the guise of pilgrim- 
priests, are making their way to Mutsu, has caused 
barriers to be set up in all the provinces, and has 
ordered that all pilgrim-priests shall be rigorously 
examined. I am thus charged with the duty of 
arresting the passage of pilgrims at this place, and I 
have to give strict injunctions in that sense. Ho 
there ! 

Man-at-arms. At your service, Sir. 
Togashi. If any pilgrim-priests seek to pass to- 
day, report to me. 

Man-at-arms. It shall be done. Sir. 

[Enter a party of pilgrim-priests.) 

Chorus. From traveller's vestment 
Pendent bells ring notes 
Of pilgrim's foot-falls ; 
And from road-stained sleeves 
Pendent dew-drops presage 
Tears of last meetings. 

Chorus. Hankai ^ with tattered shield 
Of stole and surplice. 
From Miyako wends 
His many-morned way, 
To northern hmits. 
Oh weary distance ! 

Even thought grows tired. 

See Appendix, note 6. 



Benkei. His lordship's followers ! 
Pilgrims. Ise no Samuro, Suruga no Jiro, Kataoka, 
Masuwo, Hitachibo. 

Benkei. Benkei, the pilgrim pioneer.^ 
Pilgrims. We twelve our lord leads. 

Robed in unwonted 

Vestment of travel ; 

Pilgrim-bells dangling. 

Facing the far north, 

Through dew and hoar-frost 

Fare we, if haply 

There, mid the white snows. 

Some ray of spring's sun 

We may find shining. 

Chorus. The second month's midnights 
Are counted by ten when 
They wend from Myako. 
Coming or going. 
Each alike parting. 
Witting or ignorant. 
Equally reaching^ 
The hills of Osaka, 
Shrouded in spring's haze. 
Fairest at farewell. 

To Kaizu-no-ura 
Their wave-way the boats wend. 
Softly the dawning day 
Glints on the newly greened 
Reeds of Arachi. 
Now Kehi's sacred pines, 
Ringing the red fane 
On Konome's summit. 
Rise from the lake's breast. 
And yet more distant, 
* See Appendix, note 7. * See Appendix, note 8, 



Mount Itatori 

Trodden by woodmen.^ 

Shallow-streamed Asasuzu ; 

Mikuni's haven ; 

And Shinowara, where 

Lapping the reeds' feet, 

Salt wavelets ripple. 

Till at Ataka 

Spring's early blossoms 

Lower meek heads to 

Their foe, the wind's onset.' 

YosHiTSUNE,* Benkei ! 

Benkei. At your service, my lord. 

YosHiTsuNE. Did you hear what those travellers 
said just now ? 

Benkei. No, my lord, I did not hear anything. 

YosHiTsuNE. They said that a new barrier-guard 
has been set at Ataka, and that pilgrims attempting 
to pass are subjected to rigorous examination. 

Benkei. What incredible ill-fortune 1 They must 
have set a guard because they heard of your lordship's 
journey. This is of the gravest import. Let us take 
counsel here. 

The OTHER Pilgrims. It does not seem to us that 
the case is so serious. We have only to cut a way for 
our lord's passage. 

Benkei. A moment ! It is true, as you say, that 
we might easily force this one barrier. But we have to 
consider our lord's subsequent movements. Every 
effort must be made, in my opinion, to avoid dis- 

Yoshitsune. I trust the matter to your manage- 
ment, Benkei. 

^ See Appendix, note 9. * See Appendix, note 10. 

* See Appendix, note il. * See Appendix, note 12. 



Benkei. I accept the trust, my lord. An idea 
occurs to me. We others have all the semblance 
of poor pilgrims, but unless you are further disguised, 
we cannot hope to escape notice. With your pardon 
I would suggest that you doff your pilgrim's robe, 
take that baggage-bearer's pack on your back, pull your 
hat far over your face, and follow us at a little dis- 
tance, simulating extreme weariness. You will scarcely 
be recognised if you take these precautions. 

YosHiTSUNE. It is wisely said. Remove this robe then. 

Benkei. At your service, my lord. Here, baggage- 
bearer ! 

Baggage-bearer. At your service. Sir. 

Benkei. Bring your pack here. 

Baggage-bearer. It is here, Sir. 

Benkei. A sacrilege, in truth, that your pack should 
be placed on my lord's shoulders. Now go forward, 
and see how things fare at the barrier. Bring a true 
report whether they are really subjecting pilgrims to 
close scrutiny. 

Baggage-bearer. I obey. 

Benkei. My lord, we may now go forward. Aye ! 
It is well said that the purple flower, wherever it be 
planted, cannot be hidden. 

Chorus. Surely his robe changed 
For coarsest of raiment, 
His lordly gait altered 
To lowly churl's slouching, 
No heed will be paid to 
This humble-miened toiler. 

Benkei. Aye, and the baggage-pack — 
Yoshitsune. Yoshitsune has shouldered. 

Chorus. Shelter to give to 

The borne not the bearer, 
A common churl's rain-cape ! 


YosHiTSUNE. His face he conceals with 
A hat of wreathed rushes ; 

Chorus. Leans on an iron staff ; 

YosHiTSUNE. Wears drudge's pattens ; 

Chorus. And with a halting gait 
Tramps slowly onward, 
A spectacle pitiful. 

Benkei. Follow in our rear, my lord. Now, are 
all ready ? 

Pilgrims. We are ready. 

Man-at-arms {at the barrier). Sir, a number of pil- 
grims seek passage. 

ToGASHi. What say you ? Pilgrims seeking pas- 
sage ? Aye, so it is. Pilgrims, this is a barrier. 

Benkei. Sir, we are pilgrims who have been sent to 
travel through the country seeking aid for the re-build- 
ing of Todaiji ^ in Nara. We are instructed to visit the 
northern circuit, and have thus reached this place. We 
pray your contribution. 

ToGASHi. You do well. I will contribute. But 
this barrier all save pilgrims may pass. 

Benkei. Sir, the reason ? 

ToGASHi. The reason! Yoritomo and Yoshitsune 
have become enemies, and it has been reported to my 
lord Yoritomo that Lord Hangwan (Yoshitsune), with 
eleven followers disguised as pilgrims, is on his way 
northward to seek the assistance of Hidehira of Mutsu. 
Orders have therefore been issued that barriers shall be 
set up in all the provinces and pilgrim-friars rigorously 
scrutinised. This barrier is in my charge : pilgrims 
cannot pass. Above all, a band so numerous as yours. 
Not one of you can have passage. 

^ See Appendix, note 13. 



Benkei. I have heard, Sir. But your instructions 
are to stop pretended pilgrims. You surely do not 
mean that you will stop genuine pilgrims ? 

Man-at-arms. In sooth ! Seeing that already three 
pilgrims were put to the sword here yesterday. 

Benkei. Say you so ! And were those slaughtered 
pilgrims Yoshitsune and his followers ? 

ToGASHi. Poh ! arguments ! I will have no con- 
troversy. Not one shall pass. I have said it. 

Benkei. It is then your purpose to slay us also 

ToGASHi. Undoubtedly. 

Benkei. Incredible ! We have come indeed to an 
ill-fated place ! There is no help. We must then per- 
form our last rites and submit quietly to our fate. Ap- 
proach all and prepare. I begin our last rite. 

Benkei. Servant of the great anchorite Yen is the 

Pilgrims. Fashioned after the sacred shape of the 
divine Fudo. 

Benkei. His coif is the crown of the five talents. 

Pilgrims. Its plaits are the twelve lusts of the flesh. 

Benkei. His bells the nine rites that make perfection. 

Pilgrims. His hose the emblem of dark chaos. 

Benkei. His eight-looped sandals. 

Pilgrims. The eight-petalled lotus-flower under his 

Benkei. Each breath he breathes forms the quintes- 
sential sounds.* 

Pilgrims. The body of the Buddha, the pilgrim- 
friar's ! 

Benkei. Here to be struck down and laid low. 
Pilgrims. How shall the divine Fudo be appeased? 
Benkei. Kumano Gongen will mete out punish- 

^ See Appendix, note 14. 



Pilgrims. Here without interval. 

Benkei. Be it not doubted. {All together rapidly rub- 
bing their rosaries. Om mani padme hum I) 

ToGASHi. It is well done ! I gather then that you 
exhort men to contribute to the re-building of Todaiji 
in Nara. Presumably you carry with you the pro- 
spectus of the temple. I desire to hear it read. 

Benkei. Is it your wish to hear the prospectus read ? 

ToGASHi. Assuredly. 

Benkei. I obey. Naturally we have the prospectus. 
{He takes from the valise a scroll in which correspondence 
is inscribed, and pretending it to be the prospectus, reads in 
a stentorian voice :) "After the autumnal moon of the 
Great Teacher (Shaka) set in the clouds of Nirvana, 
there remained no man capable of rousing the living 
and the dead from the long dream in which they were 
sunk. Then, in mid antiquity, the Mikado, whose 
name was reverentially called the Emperor Shomu, being 
separated from his best beloved and powerless to subdue 
his yearnings, the round tears, welling, fell like strings 
of pearls from his eyes, and turning into the three paths, 
he erected a statue of Birushana. Now Shunjobo 
Chogen, grieving that the image should not have a 
fane, travelled throughout the land seeking alms, and 
promising that if any gave even a single sheet of paper 
or so much as half a coin, he should enjoy limitless 
happiness here, and sit hereafter upon the thousand 
petalled lotus." {As Benkei concludes his reading in a 
voice that rises reverberating to the sky, the guards at the 
barrier all bow their heads in awe.) 

ToGASHi. Pass speedily. 

Benkei. We obey. {They pass the barrier.) 

Man-at-arms. Sir, Sir, Lord Hangwan is passing. 

ToGASHi. How? Halt there, baggage-bearer ! 

Pilgrims. How now! They suspect our lord. 
The crisis ! The crisis ! {'They all turn back.) 



Benkei. Hold! Hold! Let not haste misdirect 
you. Why is our baggage-bearer seized? 
ToGASHi. I propose to detain him. 
Benkei. For what reason ? 

ToGASHi. He is said to resemble a certain man. 
Stop him there ! 

Benkei. A man resemble a man! What then? 
That is not strange. Whom does he resemble? 

ToGASHi. He is said to resemble Yoshitsune. I 
shall detain him for examination. 

Benkei. Incredible ! Wretched coolie with your 
likeness to Yoshitsune ! A life-time's not long enough 
to be angry with you. We have to reach Noto before 
sunset, and you with your light load lag behind exciting 
people's suspicions ! You rascal ! I '11 teach you a les- 
son. [Raises his pilgrim s iron staff and beatsYosHi'rs,vtii. 
unmercifully.) No one would trouble himself whether 
such a fellow passed or did not pass had you not 
sneaked along like a thief. 

Chorus. Why lay thy hand to sword and sabre 
for the sake of a common baggage-bearer ? Whence 
this perturbation ? Is it terror ? As the eleven 
pilgrims, their trenchant blades half- drawn, stride for- 
ward like one man, their aspect might affright even a 
demon ! 

ToGASHi. It was a mistake. Pass then; pass. 
(Yoshitsune passes rapidly.) 

Benkei. Now that we have left that barrier behind, 
let us halt here a moment. Draw near all of you. 
What am I to say? In this extremity I have been 
guilty of a monstrous act. When my lord's fortune is 
at this low ebb that Benkei should have struck him — 
the thought overwhelms me with shame ! 

Yoshitsune. You imagine that I resent it, Benkei ! 
I tell you it was an inspiration. It was not the act of 
an ordinary mortal. I am persuaded that Heaven is 



protecting me. When I fell under the suspicion of 
the guards, when my last day was in sight, that you 
paused not a moment to ask questions, but beat me 
soundly as though I were a veritable servant — that, 
that was not of Benkei's devising : it was Hachiman's.^ 
Chorus. Thinking it an inspiration, he is filled with 
gratitude ! 

Chorus. Though the ages drew to their close, 
though sun and moon should fall from the sky, what 
excuse could be found for him that raised his hand 
against his lord ? How should he escape the punish- 
ment of Heaven ? ^ 

Chorus. Known now the suffering 

Fate, in past months and years, 
Stored for this sad spring. 
Still in their hour of pain 
Marvel they most that chance 
Led them in safety through 
Danger so desperate. 
Thus the twelve fugitives, 
Waking as from a dream. 
See in each other's eyes 
Tears of glad gratitude. 

Chorus. Born a child of bow and steed, 
His life Yoshitsune willing gave 
To Yoritomo. 'Neath the crests 
Of Western ocean glad to sink 
His loyal corpse. On storm-swept moor 
Or mountain, or by far sea-shore. 
Mailed arm for pillow, night by night, 
A warrior keeping watch. Anon 
To will of wind and wave resigned ; 
Anon in snow-storm on the height 

Where fast flakes hide the bridle hand ; 

^ See Appendix, note 15. 2 See Appendix, note 16. 



Or o'er Akashi's dunes where rings 

The boom of evening billow — there 

In three brief years a mighty foe 

Broken and crushed. Of these leal deeds 

What guerdon now ? Oh ! Fate, what sins 

Of previous life are punished thus ! 

The tide of fortune at its height 

Bears fullest freight of broken hopes. 

Such is the world's sad lesson ! But 

To know makes not to be resigned. 

The soldier's spirit, straight and fair. 

As stringless bow of Azusa, 

Spurns the foul thought that calumny 

Its crooked way should win unchecked ;^ 

As mists born in the far-off south 

Make snow clouds in the northern sky. 

And in the drifts brave men are choked. 

Are there no gods to whom we pray ? 

Oh ! World of misery and spite ! 

Oh ! World of misery and spite ! 

{^he scene here returns to the barrier guard-house.) 

ToGASHi. Ho, there! 

Man-at-arms. At your service. Sir. 

ToGASHi. The rough usage those pilgrim-friars 
received at our hands irks me. I would follow them 
and exchange a cup of regret. Go you ahead, and bid 
them wait. 

Man-at-arms. I obey, Sir. [To the pilgrims whom 
he has followed.) Ho, Sirs 1 I am ordered to express 
regret for the rude treatment you received at the 
barrier, and to say that the Captain of the Guard 
is coming to offer you a cup of sake. 

Benkei. Are we then to meet his honour again ? 
^ See Appendix, note 1 7. 


Man-at-arms. 'Tis so, Sir. 

Benkei. Truly, truly ! {aside.) I understand. This 
cup of kindness is to wash away our caution ! Let it 
but increase our vigilance ! 

Chorus. Show no surprise ! By Benkei warned, 
Under the shadow of the hill 
In watchful round each pilgrim sits. 
To drink the cup of compliment. 

Benkei. Joy! In the mountain stream.* 

Chorus. Joy ! In the mountain stream 
Floating the wine-cup. 
Caught by the current, it 
Spins down the eddies. 
Waving sleeves, come, come ! 
Tread we a measure. 
Erstwhile at Hiyeizan 
Benkei an acolyte,^ 
Skilled in the sacred dance. 
" Song of the water-fall. 
Echoed from rock to rock. 
Sweeter no melody." ^ 

Benkei. I have well drunk. Let me fill your cup. 

ToGASHi. Then I will pledge you. Pray you, 
dance a measure. 

Benkei. At your service. 

Chorus. " Song of the water-fall " — 

Benkei [singing and dancing. " Song of the water- 
fall " — 

Chorus. " Song of the water-fall ; 
Plash plash and babble ! 
Gurgle and drip drop ! " 

^ Sec Appendix, note i8. * See Appendix, note 19. 

• See Appendix, note 20. 



Slip not the bow-string 
Lose not your caution ! 

[The barrier guards take their leave ; the baggage-bearer 
hoists his burden on his shoulders.) 

As men who have stepped on 
The tail of a tiger, 
As men who have fingered 
The fangs of a viper, 
They pass on their journey 
To Mutsu, land of snows. 

The tone of pessimism that pervades this 
drama is characteristic of all the No composed 
during the Military epoch, and has been inter- 
preted as proving their priestly authorship. Some 
learned critics go so far as to assert that the lay- 
men generally credited with having written the 
No were really responsible, not for the text, but 
only for the music, the dances, and the staging, 
the text being furnished by Buddhist priests, who 
employed it as a vehicle for inculcating the insta- 
bility of life, metempsychosis, the circle of fate, 
the chain of existences, and other religious doc- 
trines. Certainly the dramas offer internal evi- 
dence of the truth of that theory. 


Chapter II 


THE Kyogen, or farces, with which the 
solemnity of the No was relieved, are 
often very comical, but their humour 
does not always appeal to foreign read- 
ers. A great many were composed during the 
Military epoch, and it is notable that, like the 
No proper, not one of them contains anything 
opposed to the canons of propriety. The same 
cannot be said of early Japanese prose literature, 
for though the diction is graceful and the style 
refined, subjects are sometimes introduced that 
are distinctly indelicate. It must not be sup- 
posed, however, that early and medieval Japanese 
literature was worse in this respect than contem- 
porary European writings. On the whole, it was 
better. Still freedom from the taint of immorality 
cannot be claimed for it ; whereas in the realms of 
farce and of the drama a very strict rule seems to 
have been prescribed and observed. The experi- 
ence of other nations would lead us to expect that 
in this branch of literature above all others realism 
would sometimes degenerate into immodesty and 



humour into obscenity. But such is not the 
case in Japanese dramas or farces. The former 
deal solely with the higher sentiments, seeking 
their subjects among instances of signal bravery, 
heroic devotion, loyal piety, and pitiful misfor- 
tunes ; the latter take their material from the 
every-day life of the people, but avoid all its 
erotic and indecorous aspects. This remark 
applies only to No and No-Kyogen, not to the 
farces and comedies represented on the boards of 
the theatre in later times. Concerning these 
latter no such favourable verdict can be passed. 
But the vulgar theatre and the aristocratic No 
and Nd-Kydgen remained always distinct. The 
theatre, indeed, in the ordinary sense of the term, 
had not come into existence in the age now under 
consideration : it was a creation of subsequent 
eras, as will presently be shown. Common folks 
in the Military epoch had no opportunity of 
witnessing a histrionic performance unless a drama 
of the No type was put upon one of the religious 
stages for purposes of charity, and even then 
a certain measure of selection was applied to the 
audience. The drama {No) and its associated 
farce [Kydgen) were essentially a pastime of the 
upper classes, and to that reason, perhaps, is to 
be chiefly attributed their authors' obedience to 
the rules of pudicity. The plots were never 
complicated. A skinflint leaves his servants in 
charge of a jar of sugar, telling them that it is 
poison. They eat it in his absence, and then 



prepare an excuse by destroying some of his 
choicest possessions, in order to be able to tell 
him, on his return, that remorse for their care- 
lessness induced them to attempt suicide by poison. 
Three men set out on a pilgrimage, agreeing that 
under no circumstances will they quarrel during 
their travels. Two of them shave the head of 
the third during his sleep, and when he awakes 
and finds what has happened, he forgets his 
promise, loses his temper, and turns his face home- 
ward. But en route he conceives a scheme of 
retribution ; goes to the wives of his two friends ; 
tells them that their husbands have been drowned 
in crossing a ford, and that he has shaved his head 
and become a monk in order to pray for the 
repose of their souls ; induces the women also to 
shave their heads and become nuns ; carries away 
the hair, and shows it to the two travellers as 
proof of the deaths of their wives, and thus per- 
suades them also to shave their heads and abandon 
the world. From such simple materials were 
these farces constructed, and though the costumes 
were prepared with the greatest fidelity, and the 
acting reached a high standard, no attempt was 
made to adapt the scenery to the incident, nor 
was the audience expected to look for realistic 
effects outside the speech, mien, and actions of 
the performers. The following is a typical 
Kydgen : — 




[Enter Householder.) 

Householder. I am a person of this neighbourhood. 
For reasons of my own I am going to support some 
infirm folks. I '11 put up a placard. (Hasshi, hasshi ; 
noise of nailing up placard.) That 's excellent. \_Exit. 

[Enter Blindman.) 

Blindman. I 'm a gambler of this neighbourhood. 
I 've had a terrible run of bad luck lately and lost all 
my money. Even my household furniture has gone. 
I don't see any way to get a living, but I hear that a 
placard has been put up promising that infirm folks 
shall be supported. I have n't any natural infirmity, 
but as people are wont to say that the scabbards have 
slipped off my eyes, my sight is so sharp, I 'm going to 
make a radical change and be blind for a time. I 've 
got myself up for the purpose. Now to hurry to the 
place. {En route.) Well ! Well ! It would have been 
better if I 'd stopped when every one warned me ; but 
I kept thinking, I '11 get even this time, I 'II win 
back this time, and so I 've come to a pretty plight ! 
HuUoa ! Here 's the place. Now to be a blindman. 
Within there! Within there ! {calling at the gate.) 

Householder. Somebody outside. Who's there? 

Blindman. Beg pardon. I 'm a blindman come 
on account of the placard posted up. 

Householder. What do you say ? A blindman 
come on account of the placard ? I 'II support you, by 
all means. Come in. 



Blindman. Thank you, Sir. With your permis- 
sion. {Goes inside, and the door is closed?) 

{Enter Cripple.) 

Cripple. I 'm a famous gentleman at large belong- 
ing to this neighbourhood. Keeping company with 
those "boys" and playing games with them, I 've lost 
all my money and my house and property into the bar- 
gain. I don't see my way to get a living, but I hear 
that a rich fellow over there has put up a placard prom- 
ising that infirm folks shall be supported. I have n't 
any natural infirmity, but as I 'm particularly strong in 
the legs, I 'm going to make a radical change and be a 
cripple for the time. Now to hurry to the place. {En 
route) Well ! Well ! What an idiot I 've been ! I 
found it so amusing, so amusing ; and now I 've come 
to this ! But repentance is of no use. Well, here I am ! 
Now to be a regular cripple. Within there ! Within 
there ! {calling at the gate) 

Householder. Somebody outside. Who's there? 

Cripple. It's I ; a cripple come on account of the 
placard posted up. 

Householder. What's that? A cripple come on 
account of the placard? Why, you are quite young. 
How sad ! I '11 support you, by all means. Come in. 

Cripple. Thank you, Sir. With your permission. 
{Goes in, and the door is closed.) 

{Enter a Mute.) 

Mute. I 'm a well-known gambler of this neighbour- 
hood. Keeping company with idle fellows of late and 
playing games, I 've had a terrible run of bad luck, and 
lost not only all my money but even my wife's clothes 
into the bargain. I don't see any way of supporting 
myself, but I hear that a rich fellow over there has put 



up a placard promising that infirm folks shall be sup- 
ported. It's true I haven't any natural infirmity, but 
as people are in the habit of saying that my tongue is 
particularly sharp, I 'm going to make a radical change 
and be a mute for a time. I 've come provided with 
the implements. Now to hurry to the place. This is 
truly a case of the old saying, " Heaven does n't leave 
people to die." I 've only to go over there and I shall 
get food. HuUoa ! Here 's the place. Now to be a 
mute. Mutes carry two bits of bamboo like these and 
strike them together thus — Wa-a-a ! Wa-a-a ! 

Householder. Hulloa ! There's a strange noise 
outside. What can it be! Who's there? 

Mute. Wa-a-a! 

Householder. A mute, eh ? 

Mute. Wa-a-a ! 

Householder. I '11 support you. But have n't you 
any accomplishment ? 

Mute {striking the attitude of an archer). Wa-a-a! 
Householder. You can shoot with a bow, can you? 
Mute. Wa-a-a! 

Householder. Any other accomplishment? 

Mute {striking a spearman s attitude). Wa-a-a! 

Householder. You can use a spear, can you? 
Why, you 're a very serviceable fellow. I '11 give you 
plenty to eat. 

Mute. Oh, thank — {Remembers that he is a mute^ 
covers his mouthy and begins to move away.) 

Householder. What's this? A mute speaking! 
H owever, the proverb says " The speech of a mute is an 
earnest of good fortune." I think I '11 support him. 
Hi ! Hi! I '11 support you. Come in here. 

Mute. Wa-a-a! 

H ouseholder. Put yourself there. 
Mute. Wa-a-a! 

Householder {soliloquising. Come, come ! I 've 



quite a number of infirm people to support, I 'd better 
allot to each of them his task, as I am going to be 
absent for a time. Hulloa, blindman ! 
Blindman. What is it, Sir ? 

Householder, I 'm going away for three or four 
days, and I shall put you in charge of the storeroom 
where the Chinese furniture is. Look well after it in 
my absence, 

Blindman. Certainly, Sir, Pray do not be uneasy. 
I trust you will soon return. 

Householder, Good i Hulloa, hulloa, cripple! 
I 'm going away for three or four days, and I shall put 
you in charge of the money room. Look well after it 
in my absence. 

Cripple, Certainly, Sir. I trust you will soon return. 

Householder, Good! Hulloa, hulloa there ! 

Mute. Wa-a-a ! 

Householder. I 'm going away for four or five days. 
Look after things well in my absence. I put you in 
charge of the cellar. 

Mute. Wa-a-a. 

Householder. Good-bye, all of you, then. I shall 
soon be back. \_Exit. 

Blindman. Well, well! It 's very inconvenient keep- 
ing one's eyes shut, I '11 just open mine for a little. 

Cripple. Come, come ! One's feet feel quite queer 
doubled up like this. I '11 just stretch out mine a 

['The Blindman and the Cripple recognise each other) 

Blindman, Hulloa! It's you, is it? Well, well, 
well ! I suppose the bad luck you 've had lately sent 
you here ? 

Cripple. Precisely, Just so. But there's a fellow 
there with a queer voice. Let 's go and have a look at 



Blindman. Come along. {They see the Mute.) 

Blindman. "What's this? Who's that fellow? 
Let's give him a start. {Both together) Hulloa ! 

Mute. Wa-a-a ! 

Blindman and Cripple {both laughing). Well! 
This is funny ! 

Mute. Oh, it 's you fellows, is it? No doubt the 
bad luck you 've had lately sent you here? 

Cripple. Precisely. Just so. 

Mute. And what did you come as? 

Cripple. He came as a blindman and I as a cripple. 
And what are you ? " 

Mute. Well, you see, as folks say that I 've a par- 
ticularly glib tongue, I went in for a change and became 
a mute. 

Blindman. Yes, indeed. You were a regular mute 
just now. 

Mute. Our host has gone away for four or five days. 
Did n't he put you in charge of anything ? 

Cripple. Certainly we are in charge. The Blind- 
man has the Chinese room, and I have the strong-room. 

Mute. Oh, ho ! Those are very nice things ! 

Blindman. And you, are you in charge of anything ? 

Mute. I am looking after the cellar. 

Blindman and Cripple {both). That's better still. 

Mute. I '11 tell you my idea. Let's first open the 
cellar that I am in charge of, and have a drink. Then 
we'll open the strong-room and play a few games; and 
then we '11 open the Chinese room and clear out with its 

Blindman and Cv.i?vl^ {together). That '11 be first- 

Mute. Come along then, come along. I 'U open 
the cellar. Here we are. Here we are. Here 's the 
door. {Zara zara, sound of door opening.) Dear me, 



what a lot of jars ! Which shall we go for ? I '11 take 
the lid off this. It looks like capital sake {rice-wine). 
I '11 pour out for you. Drink away ! Drink away ! 

The Other Two. Pour out. Now then ! Ha, 
ha ! capital wine. Have a drink yourself, mute. 

Mute. Come, shall I give you a song? 

The Other Two. Good, good ! 

The Three {together). Zaranza, zaranza {sounds 
made to accompany a song). 

Blindman. Then 1 '11 do the pouring out. 

Mute. Full enough ! Full enough ! Have a drink, 
Blindman. {Sings.) 

Spring again; buds and basking; 
Kyomizu, Kyomizu ! 
Ask and get, all 's for asking ; 
Love among the leaves. 

{All sing together.) 

Mute. Ha, ha ! A fine song, is n't it ? The bottle's 
with me. Fill up. Now, Blindman, give us a little 

Blindman. Anything for sport! Shall I dance? 

The Other Two. Good, good ! 

Blindman. Sing, then. 

The Other Two. We 're with you. 

Blindman {sings). 

Down the hill a friar slim. 
At his waist a conch-shell. 
See his hands the beads tell ! 
Shall I ask across the fence ? 
Whither, friar, and from whence, 
Prythee, priest so prim ? 

The Other Two. Fine! Zaranza, zaranza ! 
Mute. Another drink. Come, Cripple, can't you 
dance a step? 



Cripple. Shall I do a dance? 
The Other Two. Good! Good! 
Cripple [sings and dances). 

Sweet boy, hey and ho ! 
Little drummer boy ! 
■ Rap a tap, smiles and joy; 
Tap a rap, soft and coy ; 
Chichi ta-popo ! 
Does it speak, is it dumb. 
Little boy and drum ? 

The Other Two. Fine! Fine! Come along; each 
in turn. Now, Mute, a dance. 

Mute. Away I go ! {Sings and dances.) 

The joiner's daughter wears a gown, 

A gown that put men's hearts to proof. 

Planes and chisels run adown 

Her shapely shoulders ; at her waist 

Adze and mallet deftly traced, 

With cunning trick of warp and woof. 

Aye, but see you, saw and file 

Enter not this maiden's style. 

Line and rule she doth disdain. 

Round her skirt's edge shavings curl ; 

Blows the spring breeze, pufF and whirl ! 

Love, the time to part is here ; 

Waits the swift ship at the pier. 

Maiden, will he come again ? 

{The Householder is seen approaching.) 

Householder. The infirm folks are looking after 
things in my absence, but somehow I feel uneasy. I '11 
get hr mc quickly. {Getting near.) What can this mean? 
Sounds of a revel ! {Enters in the midst of the singing 
and dancing.) Here ! Hulloa ! The blindman's eyes 



are open ! The cripple 's jumping around ! The mute's 
singing! Oh, you rascals ! Oh, you robbers ! Hi! Hi! 

The Three Men. Ugh! He 's back. What shall 
we do ! {"The M ute shuts his eyes tightly and cries for par- 
don; the Cripple springs up and throws himself on his 
knees, mumbling, " Wa-a-a ! the Blindman begins to 
crawl around.) 

Householder {to Cripple). You were a cripple 
and now you 're a mute. Robber! Villain! I sha'n't 
let you off. 

Cripple. Oh, forgive me. Sir! There! I 'm a 
cripple again ! 

Householder {to Mute). You were a mute and 
now you 're a chattering blindman ? 

Mute. Wa-a-a ! 

Householder. At it again, are you ? Thief! I '11 
give it to you {beating him). 

Mute. Oh ! Ah ! Let us off, let us off! 
Householder. I sha'n't ! I sha'n't ! ^ 

The old pastime of competitive verse-making 
continued to be practised in this era, but owing 
in part to the comparative illiteracy of the mili- 
tary men, who now formed a prominent element 
of society, and in part to the general decay of 
classical learning, the quality of a composition 
ceased to be of prime importance, and people 
preferred to amuse themselves capping verses. 
One person gave an opening line, a competition 
then followed as to who should first discover a 
suitable sequel. The " linked poems " {renka) 
thus produced had little literary merit, and were 
sometimes carried to extravagant length, as many 

^ See Appendix, note 22, 



as a hundred lines being chained together by the 
flimsiest links. In this matter also the love of 
elaboration and the tendency to formalism that 
have been noted already in connection with other 
refined pursuits, asserted themselves. Minute 
formula were laid down for the guidance of 
composers and for testing excellence ; styles 
were divided into " subjective " and " objective," 
and some professors of the art went so far as to 
allege a knowledge of " mysteries " invisible to 
ordinary folks. The Emperor Go-tsuchi-mikado 
(1465—1499) received the name of "beneath the 
blossom " in recognition of his skill as a com- 
poser of renka, and many names of ** masters " 
have been handed down to posterity. This was 
certainly the most frivolous of Japan's literary 
pursuits. In reading its products the student is 
constantly obliged to recall the impressionist 
proclivity of Japanese art, whether pictorial or 
poetical ; its delight in expressing ideas by a few 
strong strokes of the brush or a few cleverly 
compacted ideographs. 

He that fame would find, 
Must not balance life to lose. 
So the bowman s way 
Leads him ever face to foe. 

Note of cuckoo heard 
From the nest of nightingale. 
Green plum peeping out 
From the midst of ApriFs bloom. 


The italicised portions represent the coupled 
lines. It would seem that literature in this form 
had a special charm for the samurai, and that he 
found it sufficiently interesting to occupy his brief 
intervals of leisure even on campaign. History 
tells of a military noble, Miyoshi, who attended 
a renka party where the theme to be capped 

Soft eularia and 

Rushes in green company. 

While the convives sat searching for an apt 
couplet, a letter was handed to Miyoshi. He 
read it, and after a moment's thought composed 
these lines, — 

Shallow grows the swamp 
Changing slowly to a field. 

The couplet having been received with ac- 
claim, Miyoshi said quietly : " This letter brings 
me news that my troops have been defeated 
and that my brother Saneyoshi was killed in the 
fight. Our verse, then, is the last gift I shall 
receive in my lifetime." Thereupon he went 
out and fell in battle. 

In the Military epoch there was constant 
display of a satirical habit of mind, which has 
always marked the Japanese people, and is at 
least as strong to-day as it ever was. The Chi- 
nese language, and the Japanese in a lesser degree, 
lend themselves readily to a species of irony 
which owes its force almost entirely to plays 



upon words. This fatal facility has certainly 
tended to produce shallowness of thought by 
tempting men to substitute mere puns for wit 
and humour, though it is an extravagance to 
say, as some have said, that both of these latter 
qualities are wanting in the mental equipment 
of the Japanese. Wit is rarely found among 
any people, wherever it be sought, but it is not 
rarer in Japan than in Occidental countries, 
and humour abounds. What is spoken of here, 
however, is ironical levity which brings all sub- 
jects, grave or gay, terrible or trivial, within 
legitimate range of a jeu-de-mot. Thus, when, 
in the middle of the tenth century, the arch 
traitor Masakado was killed and his head ex- 
posed in Kyoto, one of the Fujiwara nobles 
composed a couplet owing its attraction solely 
to the facts that Masakado had been struck 
down by a blow on the " temple " [kome-kami), 
which is a homonym for *' rice eating," and that 
his conqueror was Tawara Toda, whose first 
name is synonymous with " rice bag." It is 
comprehensible that such trivialities should pro- 
voke a smile, but this punning couplet actually 
became a popular song so well did it fit the 
fancy of the time. Frequently such effusions 
were anonymous : their authors wrote them in a 
disguised hand and posted them in some public 
place. Thus, when a certain Saito Dosan of 
Mino in the province of Owari killed his liege 
lords, one of whom had married his daughter, 



and appropriated their estates, he found a coup- 
let placarded throughout his camp : — 

One's liege lord to slay, 
One's son-in-law to slaughter. 
Seems to be the vogue 
In Mino of Owari. 

" Mi-no-owari " has also the significance of 
"fate," or "the end of all things," and in this 
punning allusion is to be found the whole point 
of the verse. 

It may almost be said that in the absence of 
a newspaper press public opinion found in the 
composition of anonymous verselets a vehicle 
for expressing itself. They did not all derive 
their interest solely from jeu-de-mots. Many were 
political criticisms undisfigured by any such verbal 
devices, — political, that is to say, in the sense 
attaching to the term among men who gave no 
thought to such matters as popular representation, 
forms of government or party platforms, since 
they had only one orthodox, though often vio- 
lated, code of action, fealty to a liege lord ; only 
one ideal of success, the assertion of military 
prowess, and only one object of pursuit, the 
assertion of family interests. 

When Kiyomori created a social panic by re- 
moving the capital from Kyoto, with all its clas- 
sical associations and sensuous delights, to the 
bleak, uninteresting, and vulgarly new Fukuhara, 
an indignant critic set up by the wayside a plac- 



ard predicting that fate had evil things in store 
for a family so infatuated as " to abandon the 
city of flowers in full bloom and go forth into 
the bleak wilderness ; " and when the Taira 
leader, Koremori, returned with an army which 
had failed to effect anything against the rival 
house of Minamoto, a writing was found next 
morning on the gate of his stronghold declaring 
that he was rushing to his ruin as swiftly as the 
current of Fuji River leaped towards the sea. 
Displays of cowardice, departures from the " path 
of the soldier," or acts of disloyalty, seldom failed 
to evoke satirical censure of this nature, and a 
cleverly turned couplet was as potent to invoke 
public ridicule or execration as is a leading article 
in a modern newspaper. 

It will be observed that the middle and lower 
orders have not been spoken of in connection 
with the pursuits and pastimes here described. 
But they were not wholly excluded. They had 
their tea ceremonials, their incense parties, their 
dancing, their landscape gardening, and above all, 
their gambling, fashioned after aristocratic models, 
though on a greatly reduced scale. They had 
also their religious festivals and their fetes, which 
will be spoken of independently. It was always 
characteristic of the Japanese that the fashions of 
the " upper ten " found imitators on the lowest 
planes of society. This is especially true in the 
matter of dancing. From the sixteenth cen- 
tury it became the custom to organise general 



dances throughout the whole of the seventh 
month (modern August) in the capital and its 
vicinity. At first these were confined to the 
higher classes, brilliancy and richness of cos- 
tume being an essential. But by degrees the 
circle widened, and in the days when Oda 
Nobunaga, the Taiko, and Tokugawa lyeyasu 
were engaged in restoring peace and order, au- 
tumn dances began to be organised by the mer- 
cantile, manufacturing, and agricultural orders, 
aristocrats taking the place of spectators. These 
and other popular dances will be referred to in 
a future chapter. 

Wrestling was a favourite exercise of the Japan- 
ese samurai from the earliest time. When first 
heard of historically, two decades before the com- 
mencement of the Christian era, it presents itself 
simply as the art of applying one's strength to 
the best advantage for the destruction of an 
enemy. There were no rules, no restrictions, no 
vetoes ; only devices. Kicking, striking, grip- 
ping anywhere and anyhow ; attacking the most 
vital parts of the body — all were permissible. 
A man sought only to kill his adversary, and if, 
after throwing him, he could break bones or 
ribs by stamping, or kicking, or pounding with 
the knees, success was complete. The earliest 
historical wrestler served his opponent in that 
manner. One of the Emperor Suinin's (b. c. 
29—70 A. D.) Palace guards, Tayema no Kehaya, 
or " Tayema the quick-kicker," had such thews 

VOL. HI. — 5 6 r 


that no one could stand against him, and his 
truculent, quarrelsome disposition made him uni- 
versally hated. It is characteristic of the methods 
of early Japanese sovereigns, that, although this 
man was an object of dread to all the courtiers, 
and although his daily deeds of violence made 
him a general terror, no way of getting rid 
of him presented itself except to seek some 
one who might overmatch him. The custom 
of that time was to summon the strongest 
men in the country to be the sovereign's 
guards. Tayema had been one of such a levy. 
A second summons subsequently brought a batch 
of recruits, among whom was Nomi no Sukune. 
He challenged Tayema. The encounter took 
place in the presence of the Emperor and the 
Court nobles, and Nomi threw Tayema and 
kicked him to death. It is thus evident that 
there were authorised displays of wrestling in 
those days, but nothing is known as to the science 
of the practice, and its ferocious nature cannot 
have recommended it to a nation which has 
never shown a love for sports so deadly as those 
formerly popular among the Romans and the 
Spaniards. Nomi no Sukune is said to have 
modified the art, reduced its methods to a recog- 
nised system, and deprived it of its deadly charac- 
ter. Such action would have been consistent 
with his traditional conduct in other matters, but 
the annals of Japan are doubtful evidence when 
they deal with incidents twenty centuries old. 



Curiously enough, wrestling is next heard of 
under the patronage of a lady, the Empress 
Kogyoku. She assembled the strong men among 
her subjects and made them wrestle for the en- 
tertainment of Korean envoys. Apparently the 
art had then become a pastime robbed of its 
brutal features ; an inference which is finally 
confirmed by the records of the Emperor Shomu 
(724-728). This is the same sovereign who 
erected the celebrated Dai-Butsu of Nara and 
showed extraordinary zeal for the promotion of 
Buddhism. It is easy to conceive that the kind 
of wrestling approved by him was not likely to 
be a murderous combat. He included it among 
the regular sports of the harvest-thanksgiving 
in the month of August, and thenceforth the 
" wrestler's fete " {sumo-no-sechtye) is classed in the 
same category with the Boys' Celebration," or 
the " Lantern Festival." Shomu's idea was to 
promote muscle-developing exercises. He invited 
strong men from all parts of the Empire, and the 
Court nobles matched the rivals, compiling lists 
of the pairs just as is done to-day. Thus from a 
deadly struggle the practice was transformed into 
a harmless trial of strength and skill. Its fortunes 
thenceforward reflected the course of politics. 
During the sway of the effeminate Fujiwara, it 
dropped almost completely out of vogue, to be 
revived by the warlike Emperor Gotoba (1186— 
1 1 98), and again discarded after his death, when 
for three and a half centuries the Imperial city 



eschewed it, and the military men throughout 
the provinces took it up, treating it as one of the 
exercises that a soldier should practise. There- 
after it was classed with the dances and mimetic 
dramas performed at shrines and temples in hon- 
our of the deities and to attract monetary contri- 
butions, and Kanjin-zumo, or wrestling displays 
for charitable purposes, became one of the regular 
performances of the time. The professional 
wrestler made his appearance at this stage, and 
th.Q yose-zumo, or " collection of wrestlers," is for 
the first time mentioned. By yose-zumo, as then 
practised, is to be understood a kind of wrestling 
in which a champion set up a booth and chal- 
lenged all comers, meeting them one after another 
until he was ousted from the championship or 
confirmed in it. Such a method suited the mood 
of the Military epoch, and was so zealously 
patronised by the great captains, Oda Nobunaga 
and Hideyoshi (the Taiko), that the samurai of 
the sixteenth century paid almost as much atten- 
tion to wrestling as to archery or swordsmanship. 
Under the Tokugawa Regents, who had their 
court in Yedo, the sport was not less popular. 
In the year 1630 an athlete, Akashi Shiganosuke, 
opened lists at Yotsu-ya in that city, and for six 
days held his own against the strongest men of 
the time. Shiganosuke is as famous in Japan 
to-day as though he had been an illustrious 
scholar or a great legislator. But some fierce 
quarrels broke out among the samurai who 



attended his yose}- and the Tokugawa Govern- 
ment, always drastic in its methods, interdicted 
the practice of the art altogether. This veto 
held for thirty-seven years, when once again 
wrestling was revived in its mediaeval form of 
Kanjin-zumo, that is to say, a charitable perform- 
ance at religious festivals. Since then it has held 
a firm place in popular favour, and the profession 
now attracts scores of men who find in it a profit- 
able and honourable pursuit. 

That is the history of the art in outline, but 
greater interest attaches to its methods. These 
appear to have been elaborated with considerable 
care during the reign of Shomu (724-728), and 
many features of the system then established 
remain without change to the present time. 
The champion of Shomu's reign was Seirin, 
commonly called " Shiga Seirin," because he 
came from Shiga on the borders of Lake Biwa. 
He is said to have been invincible, and the title 
of Hote-yaku (expert) was conferred on him, the 
next in point of skill being distinguished as Hote- 
waki (assistant expert), or simply Suke-te (assistant). 
All the others were called Riki-shi (athlete) or 
Sumo-bito (wrestler). They were not " common- 
ers " [heimin) : they all belonged to the military 
class. In further recognition of Seirin's prowess, 
his province, Omi, was regarded as the centre of 
strength and taken as a basis of division, the other 
athletes being distinguished as " Eastern " or 

^ See Appendix, note 21. 



" Western " according to the position of their 
birthplaces with regard to Omi. Hence arose 
the Eastern and Western camps into which 
wrestlers are to-day divided. In Seirin's time 
the men of the East wore a hollyhock flower in 
the hair for distinguishing badge, and the men 
of the West employed a convolvulus in the same 
way. Thus it came about that the term ** flower 
path " [hana-michi) was applied to the place 
where these athletes made their entries and exits ; 
a term subsequently used to designate the approach 
to all stages for mimetic dances or dramatic per- 
formances. The holding of the ring against all 
comers was not the only form of contest in that 
era. The men of the East were regularly paired 
against the men of the West, match lists being 
compiled, and the office of umpire {giyoji) being 
conferred on Seirin and his descendants for all 
time. Seirin's family discharged the function, 
often only nominal, for fourteen generations, 
until the year 1183, when, the last representative 
dying childless, the Emperor Gotoba (1190) 
conferred the post on Yoshida lyenaga, a squire 
of the celebrated Minamoto chieftain, Kiso 
Yoshinaka. Yoshida's family thenceforth be- 
came the Tsukasa-ke (directing house) of all 
wrestlers in the Empire, its representative in each 
generation taking the name ** Oikade " (conferred 
on Yoshida by the sovereign), and holding the 
second grade of the fifth official rank, which is 
the rank of a prefectural governor in modern 



times. The Emperor also gave to Yoshida a 
" war fan " having inscribed on it the legend 
ichimi-setfu ("one taste pure wind," signifying 
that there is only one perfect style of wrestling), 
and to this day the umpire, still a representative 
of the Yoshida family, may be seen carrying the 
sacred fan as he steps into the ring. With the 
Tsukasa-ke rests the sole right of conferring upon 
the great champion of the era, the man who has 
remained undefeated for six years consecutively, 
the badge of premiership, a girdle formed of two 
thick strands of white straw, finely plaited, with 
tapering ends and short streamers suspended from 
it — a facsimile, in short, of the rope festooned 
over the lintels of houses at New Year's time. 
It is not known when the badge of supremacy 
took this form, but the wrestlers' records show 
that there have been only seventeen premier 
champions since history began to be written. 
The holder of the coveted distinction at present 
is Oozutsu Manyemon, who has achieved the 
unparalleled feat of conquering all comers for 
nine consecutive years. It is the champion's 
privilege to perform a solitary pantomime in the 
ring at intervals during the period — ten days — 
of a performance. This dohyo-iri, as it is called, 
is a stately and ceremonious business. First stalks 
in a " dew-remover " {tsuyu-harai), carrying a 
bow. Tsuyu-harai is the name given to the vas- 
sal marching in advance of a nobleman to clear 
away every obstruction, even dew-drops ; and the 



bow commemorates the fact that Oda Nobunaga 
conferred that weapon upon Miai Ganyemon, who 
worsted all opponents on the occasion (i 570 a. d.) 
of a great wrestling-match organised by Nobu- 
naga's order at Joraku-ji in Omi, After the 
champion an attendant enters bearing a sword, 
in token of the fact that Tokugawa lyeyasu hon- 
oured the strongest wrestler of his era by a gift 
of a sword, the highest distinction that can be 
conferred even on a soldier. The champion 
wears a magnificently embroidered silk apron, 
above which the yoko-zuna (silk belt) is knotted. 
Having solemnly thrown his limbs into certain 
ordered postures, he takes the bow and describes 
some picturesque but meaningless curves with it. 
The old-fashioned title of Hote-yaku is no longer 
employed. The premier champion is called 
Toko-zuna ; the two champions of the East and 
West are known as 0-zeki ; the assistant cham- 
pions are termed Seki-waki^ and the second assist- 
ant champions have the curious and unexplained 
name of Ko?nusubi (little knot). The 0-zeki, like 
the Toko-zuna, are privileged to enter the ring and 
posture before the audience, but in their case it 
is a divided glory, for they make their entree 

The Japanese wrestler is generally a man of 
fine stature and grand muscular development. 
His proportions differ so greatly from those of 
the generality of his countrymen, that by some 
observers he has been supposed to belong to a 



distinct race. But there is no basis for such a 
theory. Among the rural and sea-coast popula- 
tion of Japan men of splendid physique are to 
be found. The wrestler is one of these. There 
is no mystery about his origin. A country lad 
gifted with conspicuously fine thews conceives 
the ambition of becoming a wrestler, and makes 
application to one of the old masters, who takes 
him as a pupil, supporting him during his period 
of training, which is long and arduous. At last, 
if he shows sufficient aptitude, his name is placed 
on the roll of wrestlers, and he makes his debut 
in the ring at the Yeko-in in Tokyo. The 
Yeko-in is a temple where were buried, in 1657, 
the charred and unidentifiable remains of an im- 
mense multitude of people — tradition says over 
a hundred thousand — who perished in one of 
the stupendous conflagrations by which that city 
has been periodically visited. Funds to procure 
the performance of Buddhist rites for the souls 
of these unfortunates were collected, according 
to mediaeval custom, by performances of dances, 
mimes, and wrestling, and from that time the 
place became the wrestlers' metropolitan circus. 
Twice every year, in January and in May, tourna- 
ments are held there. They continue for ten days, 
and by their results the rank of each athlete is 
determined until the ensuing tournay. It is a 
common supposition among foreigners that the 
issue of a match is often arranged beforehand, 
and that the combatants merely simulate com- 



petition. That is never the case at the Yeko-in, 
though it may possibly happen at performances 
in the provinces. The wrestler cannot afford to 
trifle with his duties at the Yeko-in. He enters 
the arena once every second day, or five times 
altogether during a tournay. On his first appear- 
ance he becomes entitled to a daily salary the 
equivalent of two shillings, and if he loses more 
than one out of his five bouts, he cannot look for 
an increase of emoluments. Four victories and 
one defeat, or three victories and two draws, 
entitle him to an additional sixpence, and five 
victories raise his stipend to three shillings. Thus 
working his way gradually upward, he reaches 
the coveted figure of twenty shillings ( i o yen)^ ob- 
tains a place {seki) among the names printed in 
capitals on the roll, and is called a Seki-tori (place- 
holder), or, less aristocratically, a juryo-dori (ten- 
jf«-receiver). Seventy shillings is the limit of 
his regular earnings at one tournay, and whatever 
his stipend, he never fails to hand over a liberal 
portion to his teacher. But this sum, which is 
paid by the lessee, represents only a fraction of 
the successful wrestler's earnings. His progress 
is keenly watched by numerous enthusiasts among 
the audience, and often when he spreads his vic- 
torious arms in the ring, the cheering onlookers 
doff their mantles or surcoats and fling them at his 
feet, redeeming them afterwards for substantial 
sums. Besides, in the intervals between the 
Yeko-in tournays, the wrestlers travel from place 



to place in the great cities and in the provinces, 
and the portion of their earnings that falls to 
their share in connection with these performances 
is a matter of arrangement with the lessee. The 
latter also furnishes them with food and drink — 
meat and sake (rice-beer) — in unlimited quanti- 
ties. They observe no regimen in their diet, for 
obesity, so long as it does not interfere with their 
muscular efficiency, is an advantage ; the greater 
their weight, the greater being their inertia, which, 
as will presently be understood, is a gain to Japan- 
ese wrestlers, though the vast accumulations of 
adipose tissue that some of them display seem at 
once repulsive and unworkmanlike to Occidental 
eyes. There is a strictly observed system of eti- 
quette with regard to the manner of serving their 
meals, but it has no special interest excepc as the 
only etiquette with which their lives conform. 
For the continence and self-restraint elsewhere 
considered essential to the development of a high 
type of muscular energy are not observed with 
any strictness by these Japanese athletes. Many 
a career of high promise is wrecked on its 
threshold by sensual excess. 

To adhere strictly to a chronological system 
in tracing the developments of every Japanese 
custom, would sometimes necessitate fragment- 
ary and bewildering treatment. Wrestling is 
one of the subjects that does not lend itself to 
such division. The important position it occu- 
pied as a part of every samurai's training during 



the Military epoch entitles it to a place here, 
whereas its practice as a professional art belongs 
more properly to a later era. For obvious 
reasons, however, to say now at once what has 
to be said about it will be convenient, and as it 
is one of the Japanese institutions that specially 
attract the attention of foreigners visiting the 
Far East, no apology is needed for speaking of 
it with some minuteness. 

In truth, the science of wrestling as seen in 
Japan must be classed as one of the things that 
are essentially Japanese. Its exact counterpart is 
not to be found in any other country. The 
wrestlers at the Olympic Games, in the Circus, 
in Nineveh and in Egypt, stood facing each 
other from the first, and while they resorted to 
various tactics of pulling, pushing, twisting the 
body, interlocking the limbs, and even hitting, 
their ultimate aim was to obtain the mastery 
over one another's legs and thus secure a fall. 
But in the Japanese science of wrestling, as prac- 
tised since the eighth century, the fall is always 
a subordinate incident, the principal object being 
to force the adversary out of a circular ring 
fifteen feet in diameter. As in Greece and 
Rome, so also in Japan, the wrestler is almost 
completely naked, wearing nothing but a loin- 
cloth and a girdle. The combatants are re- 
quired to begin by squatting opposite to each 
other in the centre of the ring, and the umpire 
stands close by, his prime duty being to see that 



at the moment when they spring upright to 
commence the play, neither has the slightest 
advantage in priority of rising or in difference 
of inhalation. Sometimes this prefatory per- 
formance occupies several minutes, for when 
the men are well matched and highly skilled, 
they attach importance to points of the most 
trifling nature, quite imperceptible to ordinary 
observers. At last, rising erect on terms of 
absolute equality, and receiving the signal from 
the umpire, they begin to fence for grips, or to 
make thrusting motions with the hands, or even 
to butt with the head. In this part of the con- 
test the onlooker might conclude that there 
were no limitations whatever. The arms, the 
legs, the girdle, the neck, the throat, — in short, 
every part of an adversary's body may be seized, 
and it is even lawful to slap the face with the 
open hand, though such a manoeuvre seldom 
commends itself on account of the dangerous 
opportunity it offers to a nimble adversary. 
Kicking alone is seen to be strictly forbidden. 
But this absence of restraining rule is only ap- 
parent. Every grip or thrust has to be strictly 
conformed to what is called the " direct " prin- 
ciple ; that is to say, a combatant must not 
divide his force and apply it in opposite direc- 
tions so as to produce what are mathematically 
termed " moments." For example, to deliver 
a downward thrust on an opponent's arm while 
forcing his wrist upward, or to bend his fingers 



back while pulling his fore-arm forward, is foul 
play, and any wrestler resorting to such tricks 
would be at once expelled from the ring and 
forbidden to practise his profession.-^ At the 
same time, although the prime aim is to thrust 
an adversary from the ring, a throw also counts 
decisively ; not a throw with complicated con- 
ditions, as in the French or Cornish style, but 
a fall constituted by touching the ground with 
any part of the body except the soles of the feet. 
To drop on one knee, or even to lay a finger on 
the sand of the arena, amounts to defeat. The 
skilled expert, however, never deliberately tries 
for a throw. His body bent slightly forward, 
his legs firmly braced, he carefully parries his 
opponent's attempts to get a favourable hold, 
and, on his own part, avoids with equal care any 
undue impetuosity of attack or extreme muscu- 
lar effort such as might impair his power of re- 
silience. It follows from the purpose to be 
achieved that the acme of skill consists in exert- 
ing a maximum of force with a minimum disturb- 
ance of position, just as a master of the rapier 
confines the area of his lunges and parries to a 
circle of minute radius. Hence the finest dis- 
plays of Japanese wrestling seem less interesting 
to an uninitiated observer than the comparatively 
brisk and violent struggles of amateur combat- 
ants. Further, it is the umpire's care to inter- 
pose before the point of exhaustion has been 

1 See Appendix, note 2z. 



reached, and, after an interval of rest, to replace 
the men in exactly the same grips they had 
before the interruption, the idea of these pauses 
being to prevent any unscientific exercise of 
brute force. If the course of the contest satis- 
fies the umpire that neither man is likely to gain 
an advantage over the other, he declares the 
bout "divided" [hiki-wake), and if there occurs 
a perplexity which the elders of the ring can- 
not agree to solve, the umpire says " we take 
chare " [o-azukari), and again the struggle is 
drawn. Absolute good temper prevails. The 
wrestler is generally an uneducated man of low 
origin, but roughness and violence are for- 
eign to his disposition, and he possesses the 
Japanese characteristic of being able to accept 
his reverses or welcome his successes with un- 
failing equanimity. 

The whole science of wrestling is supposed to 
be comprised in forty-eight devices, — " forty- 
eight hands," as they are called, — namely, twelve 
thrusts, twelve grasps, twelve twists, and twelve 
under-grips, each having a distinctive name, — 
another example of the extraordinary elaboration 
to which every art and every pastime is carried 
in Japan. It is a commonly entertained belief 
that these have never been changed since they 
were reduced to rule in the eighth century. But 
that is a fallacy. Various celebrities in successive 
ages added methods of their own, and a thorough 
master of the craft in the present era must be 



acquainted with about one hundred and fifty or 
one hundred and sixty hands." Thus, during 
the MiUtary epoch, when wrestling had a place 
scarcely second to archery and fencing in a sol- 
dier's training, great captains like Hatake-yama, 
Kawazu-no-Saburo, and Moritano-no-Goro, were 
as famous for wrestling as for the leadership of 
soldiers, and the forty-eight " hands " received 
various additions from them. 

Wrestling in Japan has its esoterics. They are 
founded on the Chinese philosophy of the Ch'i. 
The easiest way to explain this is to describe the 
arena. There is a circular ring covered with 
sand, its circumference formed by sixteen bags 
of sand laid end to end. Entrances are made on 
the east and west by removing two of these bags ; 
over the ring a roof is supported on four equi- 
distant pillars, and under the eaves of the roof 
there is suspended a narrow curtain, which used 
formerly to be of black cloth with a conventional 
wave pattern, but is now purple. These things 
are all allegorical. The ring represents the pri- 
mordial circle, chaos. The entrances, forming 
the ideograph " two," represent the primaeval 
forces (the Tin and the Tang) from whose inter- 
actions all things were evolved. The four pil- 
lars represent the four seasons — that on the east, 
draped in blue, is spring ; that on the west, draped 
in white, autumn ; that on the south, draped in 
red, summer ; and that on the north, draped in 
black, winter. The sixteen sand-bags represent 



two groups of the Eight Diagrams,^ and the black 
eaves-curtain with its design of white waves repre- 
sents the passion-calming element. At the base 
of each pillar sits an expert, whom age has com- 
pelled to retire from the arena, and who has 
acted as teacher to the men in the ring. Near 
him is placed a vessel of water with a wine-cup 
beside it, and wrestlers, before a contest, take a 
draught of this water, in deference to the old 
custom of warriors on the eve of a perilous un- 
dertaking who exchanged a " water-cup " [mizu- 
sakazuki) in token of farewell that might be 
for ever. The relations of the wrestlers to their 
teacher are the poetical phase of their career. 
They still regulate their treatment of him by the 
ancient formula of reverence, that to tread even 
within three feet of his shadow is disrespectful. 
Altogether the Japanese wrestler has no counter- 
part elsewhere. The nature of his profession is 
not reflected in his daily life ; though uneducated, 
he knows how to conduct himself with propriety 
in the high society to which his patrons often 
introduce him ; he has a fine moral code of his 
own which holds him in the path of honest man- 
liness, and the crime of abusing his strength is 
almost unrecorded against him. 

It has already been noted that the Japanese 
swordsman practised an art called by various 
names at different epochs or by different schools, 
but having for its fundamental principle the sub- 

* See Appendix, note 23. 

VOL. III. — 6 81 


stitution of subtlety for strength. This method 
of parrying or delivering an attack has now begun 
to attract attention in Europe, and is enthusiasti- 
cally studied in Japan under the name of ju-jutsu 
or ju-ddy a term of which the nearest English 
equivalent is the *' art of pliancy." Ju-jutsu does 
not appear to have been familiar to the Japanese 
in ancient eras. At any rate, they were not ac- 
quainted with it in the elaborate form that it 
assumed during the seventeenth century. Accord- 
ing to the view of some historians, its methods 
were first taught by a Chinese immigrant at that 
time. But nothing of the kind has ever been 
known to exist in China. The probability, if 
not the certainty, is that what ju-jutsu received 
from China was merely some new plans for dis- 
abling an adversary by striking or kicking ; and 
that, since this happened at a time when the art 
had passed out of vogue, its professors tried to 
bring about a renaissance by magnifying the value 
of the Chinese innovations. In point of fact, 
such innovations were discordant with the true 
spirit of the system, which aimed, not at break- 
ing down force by force, nor yet at initiating 
assaults, but at utilising an enemy's strength for 
his own destruction, and at rendering his attacks 
suicidal. It may be supposed, on superficial 
reflection, that to set up a distinction between 
such an art and wrestling is pedantic. In a 
sense that is true. If by ** wrestling " is under- 
stood every possible device for overthrowing an 



opponent, then ju-jutsu is wrestling. But it is 
not Japanese wrestling. In the first place, Japan- 
ese wrestling absolutely forbids every dangerous 
resolution of force into components acting in 
opposite directions, whereas ju-jutsu puts such 
resolution in the forefront of its methods. In 
the second place, Japanese wrestling has for its 
object the development of strength in excess of 
that of an adversary, whereas ju-jutsu seeks prima- 
rily to divert an adversary's force into directions 
fatal to his own equilibrium. So essential is the 
difference between the two arts that while success 
in wrestling depends theoretically on preponder- 
ance of force on the side of the victor, success in 
ju-jutsu is promoted by preponderance of force 
on the side of the vanquished. A skilled wrestler 
of great thews fares worse than a feeble tyro at 
the hands of a ju-jutsu expert. The science starts 
from the mathematical principle that the stability 
of a body is destroyed so soon as the vertical line 
passing through its centre of gravity falls outside 
its base. To achieve disturbance of equilibrium 
in accordance with that principle, the ju-jutsu 
player may throw himself on the ground by way 
of preliminary to throwing his opponent, a 
sequence of proceedings that would, of course, be 
suicidal in wrestling. In fact, to know how to 
fall is as essential a part of his science as to know 
how to throw. Checking, disabling by blows 
delivered in special parts of the body, paralysing 
an opponent's limb by applying a " breaking 



moment " to it, — all these are branches of the 
science, but it has its root in making an enemy 
undo himself by his own strength. These prin- 
ciples may be seen strikingly illustrated in any of 
the schools in Tokyo, where weak striplings not 
yet out of their teens easily gain the mastery over 
stalwart men. On the abolition of feudalism 
after the Restoration in 1867, ju-jutsu shared the 
decadence that befell everything patronised by the 
samurai of early eras. But it was subsequently 
revived by Professor K. Kano, an eminent educa- 
tionist, and it is now taught gratuitously in two 
large institutions organised by him in Tokyo, as 
well as at many of the chief seats of learning 
throughout the Empire. Every police-constable 
is required to go through a course, and the result 
of his instruction is that he can generally master 
the strongest malefactor without difficulty. Evi- 
dently to explain such a system in writing would 
require a special treatise with elaborate illustra- 
tions. It may be stated, however, that the novice 
passes through three preliminary classes, and then 
reaches the first of the ten stages into which the 
science proper is divided. Six of the stages are 
devoted to physical training and four to moral 
discipline, the time required to graduate in the 
whole course being ten years. Before matricu- 
lation every pupil must take an oath to obey the 
rules implicitly, and he learns not merely the art of 
overcoming an adversary, but also the science of 
resuscitating persons who have been temporarily 



disabled, whether by his own devices or by certain 
other kinds of accident. It may appear curious 
that moral training should form part of the course, 
but the students of ju-jutsu, or ju-do (the path of 
pliancy), claim a great deal for it in the latter 
respect. Mr. T. Shidachi, in a paper read before 
the Japan Society in London in 1892, has this to 
say about the moral side of the art : " Respect 
and kindness, fidelity and sincerity are essential 
points which ju-do students should particularly 
observe. We come by daily training to know 
that irritability is one of our weakest points, and 
that we have to try to avoid it in our life, as it 
facilitates our opponents' efforts to overcome us. 
Not to be irritated by any emergency, but to be 
always calm and composed is one of the first 
principles of ju-do. Prudence, precaution, tem- 
perance, perseverance, presence of mind, quick 
discernment, decision after deliberation, anima- 
tion, self-respect, and self-control, — all these are 
moral qualities inculcated by the study of ju-do. 
Greatness of mind, obedience to duty, and ab- 
horrence of extravagance should be cultivated 
with no less attention. The influence which 
ju-do exerts on intellectual power is no less im- 
portant. The strict attention we have to give to 
daily duties is acknowledged. ... I take the lib- 
erty of saying that I have received conscious 
benefit to my faculties of concentration and 
observation by the study of ju-do'' A measure 
of enthusiasm certainly presided at the compila- 



tion of this list of advantages, and several of the 
moral results here claimed for ju-dd would be 
equally attained by any system of well-directed 
discipline. But ju-dd is one of Japan's unique 
possessions, and her estimate of its nature may 
fairly claim attention. 


Chapter III 


THE two greatest figures of mediasval 
Japan, if not the two greatest in her 
whole history, are Hideyoshi, the 
Taiko, and Tokugawa lyeyasu. Con- 
temporaries and therefore rivals, as was inevitable 
under the circumstances of their era, that they 
avoided fatal collision must be counted one of 
the clearest evidences of their astuteness. They 
did once meet in battle, and the Taiko^ for all his 
military genius, suffered defeat. But thereafter 
they lived in concord, and the Tokugawa chief, 
surviving Hideyoshi and becoming the adminis- 
trative head of the nation, organised a system of 
government which gave to the country two and 
a half centuries of tranquillity. lyeyasu, had he 
respected his pledges, should have applied him- 
self to secure to the Taiko' s son, Hideyori, the 
supreme place won by Hideyoshi's genius. But 
the ethics of the age did not require any such 
sacrifice of personal ambition. The Tokugawa 
chief not only crushed the man he had promised 
to support, but deliberately contrived an oppor- 



tunity for crushing him, and posterity does not 
count the act a crime. 

Campaigns, battles, and political intrigues do 
not find a place in these volumes ; else there 
would be much to tell about the events which 
raised the Tokugawa to supremacy, A pathetic 
figure lends special interest to the last act of the 
drama ; the figure of the beautiful Yodo, the 
Taiko's favourite mistress and mother of the lad 
to whom he vainly bequeathed the fruits of his 
splendid victories and still more brilliant states- 
manship. Left a widow at twenty-two, Yodo 
devoted herself uniquely to her son's cause, and 
in the final fight, when she and he, shut up in 
the castle of Osaka, had been refused quarter by 
lyeyasu and saw death coming steadily closer, 
the lady and her band of handmaidens did sol- 
dier's service, and at the supreme moment died 
by their own hands. 

lyeyasu then stood without a rival in the 
whole Empire. To other leaders opportunities 
equally great had presented themselves, but to 
utilise them as he utilised them required a genius 
for organisation which he alone seems to have 
possessed, and a power of analysing the lessons 
of history which few have equalled. 

The first problem to be considered was the 
position of the Emperor. It has been shown in 
these pages that the doctrine of the Mikado's 
divine descent survived all the vicissitudes of Im- 
perial life. Weeds might flourish in the ne- 



glected courtyards of the Kyoto Palace ; the 
corpse of an Emperor might lie uninterred for 
weeks through lack of money to perform the 
funeral rites ; sovereigns might be held prisoners 
by haughty subjects, or compelled to abdicate at 
the first display of a tendency to exercise inde- 
pendent governing sway ; but the theory of the 
monarch's sacrosanctity remained practically un- 
challenged. Even to-day, when the merciless 
scalpel of the critic lays open the mummy-cases 
of antiquity, and discloses dust and emptiness in 
places peopled by tradition with figures of splen- 
did humanity, it is difficult, if not impossible, to 
find a Japanese writer bold enough to scrutinise 
the legends that environ the Throne. Side by 
side with such companions as constitutional gov- 
ernment, parliamentary institutions, and freedom 
of speech and pen, faith in the sovereign's direct 
descent from heavenly ancestors seems strangely 
incongruous. But it still abides, and lyeyasu had 
to reckon with it in his day. Trespasses upon 
the Imperial prerogatives had greatly helped to 
undermine the power of the Fujiwara, the Taira, 
and the Hojo. lyeyasu had to provide against 
that error in the case of himself and his descend- 
ants. He had also to provide that the sovereign 
should no longer be a puppet in the hands of 
ambitious nobles, and that insurrection against 
his own administrative authority should no longer 
be able to borrow legitimacy from an enforced 
semblance of Imperial sanction. These ends he 



compassed by giving, on the one hand, a full 
measure of recognition to the divinity of the 
Throne's occupant, and by enforcing, on the 
other, the logical sequence of that doctrine. 
The descendant of the gods must be completely 
divested of all executive functions, these passing 
absolutely and unquestionably into the hands of 
the SKogun, who should exercise them without 
any reference to the sovereign, accepting, in 
return, full responsibility for the public peace 
and good order of the country which he thus 
undertook to govern. No command of the Em- 
peror could have the force of law unless it received 
the counter-signature of one of the Shoguns chief 
officials. In short, nothing was left to the sov- 
ereign except the prerogative of conferring hon- 
ours and titles. His seclusion was made more 
complete than ever. Progresses, state visits to 
shrines, ambassadorial audiences, — such things 
passed out of His Majesty's existence. The great 
territorial magnates were forbidden to visit the 
Palace, or even to enter the quarter of Kyoto in 
which it stood. The Court nobles might not 
intermarry with the families of the military 
chieftains unless the permission of the Govern- 
ment in Yedo had been obtained. These two 
classes were to be kept rigidly distinct. And 
never by either the one or the other might the 
Emperor's face be viewed. Even when the 
ministers of the Court approached the Throne, 
they saw nothing of their sovereign except the 



obscure outlines of a dark figure seated behind a 
semi-transparent curtain. But, though shorn of 
temporal power, the Emperor gained in mystical 
dignity. He received periodically the profound 
homage of the Yedo Regents. From him the 
living derived their titles ; the dead their apothe- 
osis, and by an Imperial delegate even the Shogun 
himself was invested. In the speech of the peo- 
ple he was always " the Son of Heaven ; " in their 
writings the line where his name figured might 
never be invaded by any other ideograph. A 
magnificent abstraction, the possibility of his be- 
coming involved in any intrigue, voluntarily or 
involuntarily, grew more and more remote in 
proportion as his godlike dignity obtained fuller 
appreciation. That was the end contemplated 
by lyeyasu. Against the head of the secular 
administration, the Shogun in Yedo, who held 
his commission direct from the sovereign, every 
insurrection unsanctioned by the Emperor would 
be technically rebellion, and every insurgent a 
traitor to the Throne. lyeyasu made it virtually 
impossible for any one to obtain that sanction or 
even to seek it. 

Responsible government had never before ex- 
isted in Japan, and lyeyasu thus became the 
author of the first written constitution. The so- 
called constitution of Prince Shotoku in the 
seventh century had been only a collection of 
moral maxims ; but now a document was drafted 
consisting of thirty-five articles, seventeen of 



which, bearing the signatures of the Tokugawa 
chief and the Regent {Kwampaku) — the latter 
acting as the sovereign's representative — made 
provision for everything relating to the Imperial 
Court ; and the remaining eighteen, which had 
the signature of lyeyasu only, contained general 
administrative rules. 

Having thus placed the relations of the SHogun's 
administration and the Imperial Court on a clear 
basis, and having secured for the former virtually 
autocratic authority while leaving the latter's 
dignity nominally undisturbed, lyeyasu took the 
map of feudal Japan and reconstructed it. Like 
everything really great, his principle of procedure 
was simple. Wherever risk could be discerned 
of coalitions hostile to his house, he inserted 
a wedge formed of his own partisans. Two 
hundred and thirty-seven military nobles held 
practically the whole of Japan in fief. One 
hundred and fifteen of these were Tokugawa 
vassals ; men who owed their ranks and estates 
to his favour, and on whose fidelity it should 
have been possible to rely implicitly. He wove 
these two hundred and thirty-seven fiefs into 
a pattern such that one of the hundred and fif- 
teen loyal threads always had a place between 
any two of the remainder whose fealty was 
doubtful or their revolt probable. Thus he 
bequeathed to his descendants a congeries of 
principalities so arranged as to offer automatic 
resistance to rebellion or anarchy. 



But while he seemed to be organising a feudal 
system, lyeyasu made every effort, at the same 
time, to paralyse the strength of the feudatories. 
Without the S/wgun's permission they were for- 
bidden to contract marriages, to build castles, to 
construct large ships, to make warlike prepara- 
tions, or to found temples. A strict veto was 
also imposed on the passage of vassals from the 
service of one feudatory into that of another, and 
it was enacted that each feudal chief must spend 
a part of every second year in Yedo, and must 
leave his sons there always as hostages for his 
own fealty. The provision with regard to 
the sons was abolished in the middle of the 
seventeenth century, but not until 1862 did the 
obligation imposed on the feudatories themselves 
undergo any relaxation. 

The effect of this system — Sankin Kotai, as it 
was called — upon the prosperity and embellish- 
ment of Yedo, as well as upon the supremacy of 
the Tokugawa administration and the allegiance 
of the military nobles, is easily conceived. Not 
merely were the territorial chiefs thus brought 
into constant contact with the head of the gov- 
ernment through whose grace they held their 
fiefs ; not merely did their attendance in Yedo 
constitute a sign of their allegiance, — a sign 
that could be unerringly interpreted, — but Yedo 
itself became their capital. There they had to 
take their places and preserve their state among 
their peers, and the magnificent mansions that 



a spirit of rivalry induced them to build, the 
brilliant equipages they supported, and the costly 
habits they cultivated, not only served as a whole- 
some drain on their resources, but also occupied 
their attention to the exclusion of politics and 
other dangerous topics. It was, indeed, a part 
of the Tokugawa chieftain's plan that the accu- 
mulation of wealth in the coffers of individuals 
should be carefully prevented. In his instruc- 
tions for the guidance of his successors he laid 
down the principle that, whenever the opulence 
of any noble began to attract attention, the task 
of carrying out some great public work should 
be imposed upon him. 

lyeyasu excelled as an organiser. Victory in 
arms served him merely as a prelude to organisa- 
tion. In that respect he differed from all his 
predecessors. They had been content to acquire 
power ; his great aim was to consolidate it. 
They had sought chiefly to exalt their own 
houses ; he sought to place himself at the head 
of an organised nation and an organised society. 
Yet he does not appear to have entertained any 
national ambition. He made peace with Korea 
on the easiest terms. He refused to assist the 
Ming dynasty against the Manchu invaders. He 
struck a fatal blow at maritime enterprise by 
causing all large ships to be destroyed, an act 
which his grandson, lyemitsu, supplemented by 
an ordinance forbidding the construction of sea- 
going vessels. He may be said to have inaugu- 



rated the policy of hermetically sealing the 
country against foreign intercourse, though in 
that matter he obeyed the teaching of experience 
rather than the suggestion of inclination. His 
dying behest to his son and successor showed 
that the people occupied a large place in his 
thoughts, yet he made no attempt to improve 
the condition of the lower orders, being appar- 
ently persuaded that poverty and hardship were 
their appointed lot. Neither did he devise any 
system for rewarding merit, hereditary titles to 
office and emolument ranking higher, in his 
opinion, than individual qualifications. 

It is a curious fact that the most commend- 
able of his measures from an ethical point of 
view proved the principal means of undermining 
the organisation he had so cleverly devised. 
Thinking to soften the military spirit of the 
age, he bestowed open-handed patronage on 
literature and education. But literature in those 
days was derived altogether from China. 
Japanese scholars saw nothing worthy of study 
beyond Confucianism. lyeyasu himself had not 
read deeply. Sharing the ignorance which 
characterised the military class in his time, 
he had no perception of the true spirit of 
Confucian and Mencian political philosophy. 
He issued an order that primers of the ancient 
learning should be procured and studied. The 
order was obeyed and the various feudal chiefs 
hastened to emulate its spirit, so that the Zen 



doctrines of Buddhism, which contributed so 
much to the development of the heroic and 
the sentimental, and were therefore favourable 
to the stability of military feudalism, gradually 
gave place to a theory that the only legitimate 
ruler was heaven-appointed ; that the good of 
the people should be the first object of adminis- 
tration, and that to fail in achieving that good 
was to forfeit the title of administrator. Before 
the Tokugawa chief died he had hirnself 
imbibed something of this philosophy, and it 
was perhaps because he foresaw the tendency 
of the Chinese learning he had thus encouraged 
that, on his death-bed, he enjoined upon his 
successor the duty of taking care of the people' 
before all things. He had unwittingly sown the 
seeds of a new revolution. 

The continuity of historical repetition is es- 
pecially marked in the case of Japan, where the 
same influences, undisturbed by any invasion of 
foreign ideas, remained in operation from gen- 
eration to generation. The families of the Fugi- 
wara, the Taira, and the Saionji had each in turn 
sought to perpetuate its power by furnishing a 
consort for the sovereign. The Tokugawa's im- 
pulse was to adopt the same device. A daughter 
of the second Shogun, Hidetada, became Empress. 
It is recorded that eleven hundred and eighty 
chests were required to carry her trousseau, and 
that the costs of her outfit and of her journey to 
Kyoto aggregated more than a million pounds 




sterling, — a strange commentary on the doctrine 
of economy inculcated continually in the ordi- 
nances of the Tokugawa. Yet another point 
where the old habits re-asserted themselves was 
an attempt to transfer the administrative authority 
from its nominal repository, the Shogun, to his 
chief minister, and the traditional analogy was 
completed by the intrusion of feminine intrigue 
into the drama. Hidetada's wife — a sister of 
the Taikd's celebrated mistress, Yodo, whose 
heroic defence of the Osaka Castle and her pit- 
iful death have been spoken of above, bore him 
two sons, for the younger of whom she used all 
her influence to secure the succession, and the 
chief minister having been won over to her cause, 
and hoping to become himself the real repository 
of power, headed one of the parties into which 
the Shogun s Court became divided. Thus, even 
before the death of lyeyasu, his house was threat- 
ened with a repetition of the drama enacted pre- 
viously in the case of every family that had 
climbed to administrative supremacy, a drama 
that would doubtless have succeeded in the case 
of the Tokugawa also had not lyeyasu emerged 
from his retirement to defeat it. 

When the boy, lyemitsu, against whom this 
plot had been directed, inherited the Shogunate, 
he proved himself one of the greatest of the 
Tokugawa, as well as one of the most masterful. 
Assembling all the principal feudal chiefs, he 
made to them this speech : My grandfather 

VOL. III. — 7 q~j 


owed much to your assistance when he brought 
the Empire under his sway, and my father, re- 
membering these things, naturally treated you 
rather as guests than as vassals. But my case is 
different. I was born to the headship of the 
country. I cannot regard you in the same light 
as the last Shogun did. My relation to you must 
be that of sovereign to subject if good order is to 
be preserved. Should any among you find that 
relation irksome and desire to reverse it, I am 
prepared to decide the issue on the battle-field. 
Return to your own provinces and consider the 
question." This bold challenge astounded the 
assembled feudatories. They remained silent for 
a time, until Date Masamune, chief of Sendai 
fief, constituted himself spokesman : " We all 
bathe in the favour of the Tokugawa. If any 
one here entertains a disloyal purpose, I, Masa- 
mune, will be the first to attack him." After 
that no dissentient voice was raised : the su- 
premacy of the Tokugawa became absolute and 

lyemitsu carried his conception of adminis- 
trative autocracy to such a point that he did not 
hesitate to revoke acts of the Emperor. For the 
sovereign having bestowed titles and ranks on 
certain priests and members of the Imperial 
household, the Shogun took back the former and 
rescinded the latter on the ground that his en- 
dorsement had not been obtained. The Emperor 
naturally observed that he might as well vacate 



the Throne if he were not permitted to reward 
even a monk ; and soon afterwards he did actually 
abdicate, after having been obliged to grant audi- 
ence to the Slibgun s nurse.^ 

Thus early in the history of the Tokugawa 
administration a collision between the two Courts 
of Kyoto and Yedo seemed imminent. But 
lyemitsu averted the peril with characteristic 
vigour. He repaired to Kyoto with a retinue of 
thirty-five thousand men-at-arms, raised the rev- 
enue of the Imperial Household from three 
thousand koku of rice (about as many sovereigns) 
to ten thousand koku, and distributed a hundred 
and twenty thousand riyo (appropriately one hun- 
dred and ninety-two thousand sovereigns) among 
the Court officials. He appears to have real- 
ised, even more clearly than his grandfather, 
lyeyasu, that the stability of the S/wgunate system 
depended on the absolutism of its administration, 
and it will be seen presently that the system fell 
owing to the failure of his successors to follow 
his autocratic example. 

But however large his conception of govern- 
ing authority, he seems to have been, like his 
grandfather, entirely without ambition that his 
country should figure prominently on the stage 
of the world. He made no attempt to take 
advantage of the victories won in Siam by his 
nationals, Yamada Jinzayemon and Tsuda Mat- 
azayemon . He rejected renewed applications for 

^ See Appendix, note 24. 



assistance from the Ming rulers, then reduced to 
the last extremity by the Manchu. He forbade 
Japanese subjects to travel abroad under penalty 
of death. He interdicted the building of sea- 
going ships. He closed the country to all 
foreigners except a few Dutchmen, and even 
they were not allowed to continue their trade 
except on condition of living a life of degraded 
ostracism on a little island in Nagasaki harbour. 
In short, he arrested Japan's international devel- 
opment, which then seemed full of promise, and 
he deliberately diverted her from opportunities 
that would have opened for her a great career, 
had she utilised them boldly. 

It is necessary to elaborate this last point ; to 
show what were the opportunities upon which 
Japan turned her back in the beginning of the 
seventeenth century, and to what motives her 
suicidal policy is attributable. 

When Occidental commerce first invited 
Japan's participation, the Japanese merchant 
laboured under two signal disqualifications for 
engaging in it successfully, — inexperience almost 
absolute, and a traditional habit of relying on 
official tutelage in commercial affairs. He was 
accustomed to exchange his staple commodities 
at prices fixed by law ; he did not enjoy the 
privilege of discriminating between the intrinsic 
values of the coins issuing from the mint, but was 
required to render blind deference to their super- 
scriptions ; his commercial conscience had been 



blunted by repeated evidences of the Govern- 
ment's financial unscrupulousness ; tradition and 
the inflexible rules of caste taught him to place 
trade at the lowest point in the scale of human 
occupations, and he lived in an essentially mili- 
tary age when the business type was out of touch 
with its surroundings and had not yet attained 
any appreciable development. Observing these 
antecedents, the historian is confronted by an 
unexpected consequence. He finds that, from 
the very outset, Japanese national enterprise 
turned quickly into the paths of foreign com- 
merce, and that the people exhibited a marked 
faculty for engaging with vigour and success in 
routes of peaceful trade where countries like 
Portugal, Spain, Holland, and England were 
then supposed to enjoy a monopoly. Between 
the coming of the Portuguese in 1542, and the 
closing of Japan to the outer world in 1636, the 
Japanese established commercial relations, and 
inaugurated a trade of more or less volume, with 
no less than twenty foreign markets. The rep- 
utation that the island empire subsequently 
acquired owing to more than two centuries of 
semi-seclusion has hidden these facts from gen- 
eral observation, but they are none the less his- 
torical. Two things present themselves clearly 
to view : first, that there was originally no evi- 
dence whatever of a disposition to impose restric- 
tions on the comings and goings of Western 
traders ; secondly, that the benefits of commerce, 



as exemplified by the doings of those traders, 
impelled Japan to immediate and enthusiastic 
imitation. Portuguese ships were made free to 
visit any part of the realm. To the Dutch and 
the English, when they came in the early years 
of the seventeenth century, similar freedom of 
commerce was granted. They received written 
authorisation, over the vermilion stamp of the 
Tokugawa S/iogun to " conduct trade without 
molestation in any port or at any place in 
Japan." There was no imposition of onerous 
taxes or duties, and though presents had to be 
offered to local officials and to the central gov- 
ernment, their total value never exceeded five 
per cent of the nominal cost of the cargo on 
account of which they were made. Yet, eighty- 
seven years after this auspicious inauguration of 
foreign intercourse, Japan made an almost com- 
plete reversal of her national policy, adopted an 
exclusive attitude, substituted distrust and aver- 
sion for the confidence and amity of her pre- 
vious mood, and asserted her right of isolation 
with fierce and unrelenting imperiousness. 
What had happened to produce this remarkable 
metamorphosis ? 

Looking back to the commencements of 
Japan's foreign intercourse, it is seen that close 
upon the footsteps of the pioneers of trade fol- 
lowed the pioneers of Christianity. They too 
were hospitably received. It is true that the 
sequel of their propagandism shows Japan re- 



sorting to the fires of persecution and the cross 
of the martyr with all the merciless vehemence 
of contemporary Europe, and that the story of 
their doings was thus projected upon the pages 
of history in shocking outlines. But the mood 
ultimately educated by the conduct of the Chris- 
tian propagandists differed widely from the mood 
with which they were originally welcomed. That 
fact cannot be too emphatically asserted. If these 
Portuguese and Spanish apostles of the Nazarene, 
together with their Japanese disciples, fell victims 
at the last to the wrath of the nation whose heart 
they had come to win, the cause is to be sought 
in their own faults and in the intrigues of their 
foreign rivals rather than in the prejudice or 
bigotry of the Japanese. They taught to Japan 
the intolerance which she subsequently displayed 
towards themselves, and they provoked its display 
by their own imprudence. 

The historical bases of these propositions are 
easily traced. During the interval of two hun- 
dred and sixty-one years — i 28 1 to 1542 a. d. — 
that separated the great Mongol invasion of 
Japan from the opening of intercourse between 
the latter and Europe, the spirit of lawless ad- 
venture prevalent throughout the Occident found 
its counterpart in the conduct of the Japanese. 
It might be supposed that their lust for fighting 
would have been amply sated by the perpetual 
domestic combats that kept their own country in 
a ferment from shore to shore. But although 



rich prizes fell to the share of the leaders in these 
internecine struggles, the ordinary samurai 
little by them. His pay was scanty, his prospect 
of promotion limited, and it may well be that he 
sometimes turned with loathing from the constant 
necessity of bathing his hands in the blood of his 
own countrymen. At all events, piracy became 
a favourite occupation. The Japanese appear 
to have regarded the littoral provinces of their 
neighbours as fair fields for raid and foray. Some 
historians suggest that the fiercely aggressive 
temper of the time was kindled, or, at any rate, 
fanned into active flame, by the Mongol assaults 
which the great Khan made upon Japan. But 
the course of events is not consistent with that 
theory. The defeat of Kublai's armadas, on the 
contrary, was succeeded by an interval of com- 
parative quiescence, partly, no doubt, because the 
Japanese appreciated the might of which such 
formidable efforts were an evidence, and partly be- 
cause their sea-going capacities still remained com- 
paratively undeveloped. But from the middle 
of the fourteenth century it became a species of 
military pastime in Japan to fit out a little fleet 
of war-boats and make a descent upon the coasts 
of Korea or of China. The annals of the suf- 
ferers, naturally more credible in some respects 
than those of the aggressors, show that what the 
Norsemen were to Europe in early ages, and the 
English to Spanish America in times contem- 
porary with those now under consideration, the 



Japanese were to China. They made descents 
upon the Shantung Promontory, — the same place 
where their posterity, in modern days, were des- 
tined to annihilate China's naval forces at Wei- 
haiwei, — and carried their raids far inland, looting 
and destroying villages and towns, and then march- 
ing back leisurely to the coast, where they shipped 
their booty and sailed away when the wind suited. 
They repeated these outrages, year after year, on 
an increasing scale, until the provinces of Fuhkien, 
Chekiang, Kiangsu, and Shantung — in other 
words, littoral regions extending over three de- 
grees of latitude — were almost wholly overrun 
by the fierce freebooters. It is related in Chinese 
history that the commonest topics of conversation 
in this unhappy era were the descents of the Japan- 
ese on the dominions of the Middle Kingdom, 
the vessels taken by them, the towns pillaged and 
sacked, the provinces ravaged. They are spoken 
of as "sovereigns of the sea," and although forty- 
nine fortresses were erected by the much harassed 
Chinese people along the eastern coasts, and al- 
though one man out of every four of the sea-board 
population was enrolled in a coast-guard army, 
the raiders made nothing of such obstacles. The 
immemorial iteration of Chinese military ex- 
periences was again exemplified. Defeated gen- 
erals laid accusations of incapacity and treachery 
at each other's doors, and being all alike de- 
nounced by the censors, the best were recalled 
and punished and the worst left in command. 



The Japanese pirates, it should be remembered, 
were not backed by any reserve of national force ; 
they were private marauders, mere soldiers of 
fortune, without even the open countenance or 
support of a feudal chieftain, though undoubtedly 
their enterprises were often undertaken in the 
secret interests of some local magnate. It stands 
to China's lasting humiliation that she was at last 
compelled to treat the freebooters as a national 
enemy, and to move a large army against them. 
There is, indeed, an element of comicality in the 
situation as it existed at the time of which we 
write, — China always perched upon a pedestal of 
ineffable loftiness, addressing her neighbours in 
forms of speech rigidly adapted to the height at 
which she supposed herself to stand above them, 
and solemnly registering the visits of their ambas- 
sadors as tribute-bearing missions ; Japan lightly 
contemptuous of such pretensions, thrusting the 
magnificent Empire's envoys into prison and keep- 
ing them there for months on some transparently 
petty pretext, crossing her neighbour's borders 
whenever and wherever she pleased, and carrying 
away everything of interest or of value that came 
under her hand, yet never hesitating to send 
openly and courteously for a Buddhist sutra, a 
celadon vase, or a brocade altar-cloth, if a desire 
for such objects suggested itself. 

Korea underwent at Japan's hands experi- 
ences only a degree less harassing than those 
suffered by China, but failed altogether to find 



a remedy. Her feeble and ill-judged measures 
of retaliation served merely to provoke fresh 

The interest of this chapter of Japanese history 
consists not merely in the materials that it fur- 
nishes for estimating the quality of Japanese 
enterprise and of Japanese fighting capacity in 
the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, but also in 
the indications that it contains of the country's 
attitude towards foreign commerce and foreign 
intercourse at that epoch ; that is to say, com- 
merce and intercourse with China and Korea, 
for the time here considered was prior to the 
coming of Europeans. Foreign commerce was 
regarded, not as a factor of national wealth, but 
as a means of enriching a few privileged indi- 
viduals. Its profits were, for the most part, 
confined to two great families, the Ouchi in the 
case of China, and the So in the case of Korea, and 
restrictions were imposed upon its dimensions 
solely for the purpose of keeping it within reach 
of the prescribed control. Speaking generally, 
it may be said that the patronage of one feudal 
chief or court noble involved the opposition, or 
aroused the jealousy, of some other, and not until 
the unification of the nation in modern times 
created a common interest in promoting factors 
of prosperity, did foreign commerce cease to be 
hampered by personal rivalries and political am- 
bitions. As for foreign intercourse, its con- 
veniences alone were considered, the obligations 



that it imposed being practically neglected. 
Japan drew freely upon China and Korea for 
whatever contributions they could make to her 
literary, religious, and artistic equipments, but at 
the same time she allowed her subjects to pursue 
toward both countries a course of lawless violence 
that must have speedily involved her in war had 
either the Koreans or the Chinese seen any hope 
of engaging her successfully. There was no hope, 
however. She beat back their armadas ; she 
carried fire and sword into their territories with- 
out even the semblance of a national effort ; she 
imprisoned their envoys ; she showed her total 
fearlessness of them in a hundred ways. But 
she never opposed the comings and goings of 
their peoples to and from her own territories. 
There was no isolation on her side. 

Such was the state of affairs when (1542) the 
first Europeans came to Japan. 

Christianity and foreign commerce presented 
themselves, hand in hand, and there is no doubt 
that the marked success which the former achieved 
at first was due, in large part, to the favour with 
which the latter was regarded as a means of 
furnishing wealth and novel weapons of war 
to the feudal chieftains in their combats and 
armed rivalries. The alien creed was, in fact, 
drawn from the outset into the vortex of Japanese 
politics, and by an evil chance its early patrons, 
though powerful at the moment, were destined 
soon to be stripped of their possessions and their 



influence. But its sun had risen high above the 
horizon before the first clouds made their appear- 
ance. In thirty years two hundred thousand 
converts were won, three monasteries, a college, 
a university, and upwards of fifty churches were 
built, and it seemed as though the thirty-six 
provinces of which Japan then consisted might 
soon be included in the pale of Christendom. 
Such results, when compared with the achieve- 
ments of missionaries in the present times, suggest, 
at first sight, either that the methods of mediaeval 
propagandism were superior to those of modern, 
or that some special receptivity for religious truth 
existed among the Japanese of the sixteenth cen- 
tury. But the fact is that the imported faith 
profited largely by two adventitious aids, its com- 
mercial associations and the marked disfavour into 
which Buddhism happened to have fallen at that 
epoch. The latter point, already briefly touched 
on in a previous chapter, deserves elaboration. 

At the moment when the question of the 
State's attitude towards Christianity had to be 
answered, Oda Nobunaga, the first of the great 
triumvirate who finally rescued Japan from inter- 
necine strife, was approaching the zenith of his 
power in the central and northern districts. He 
aimed at restoring the administrative authority 
of the Emperor and putting an end to the san- 
guinary struggles carried on by the feudal chiefs 
throughout the Empire. His splendid successes 
soon placed him in a position to decide whether 



the foreign creed, already counting many disci- 
ples in the south, should be sanctioned or pro- 
scribed in the capital. Historians delight to put 
wise epigrams into the mouths of illustrious men. 
It is related of Nobunaga that he dismissed the 
Christian problem by curtly observing that, since 
Japan already possessed a dozen different sects of 
religion, he saw no reason why she should not 
have a thirteenth. He may have couched his 
decision in that language, but as to the real mo- 
tives of the decision there cannot be much doubt. 
He regarded the Buddhists as enemies of the 
State. During nearly seven centuries the arro- 
gant pretensions of the priests had grown more 
and more defiant of official control. From an 
early era it had been the custom to entrust to 
them the care of mortuary tablets and the guar- 
dianship of tombs. Immense importance natur- 
ally attached to the discharge of such functions 
in a country where ancestral worship informed 
all religion. Besides, it has already been shown 
that the representatives of the Indian creed were 
closely associated with the progress of moral en- 
lightenment and material prosperity, and that 
they figured prominently in maintaining relations 
with Japan's continental neighbours. If to that 
record the fact be added that, from the close of 
the seventh century. Buddhism had been em- 
ployed to some extent by Japanese statesmen as 
an aid to the unification of the nation, and, at a 
later time, by Japanese sovereigns in their strug- 

I lO 


gles against usurping clans, it is possible to appre- 
ciate the important position held by it in every 
sphere of the people's life. Rich gifts and ex- 
tensive tracts of land were bestowed upon the 
temples, now by a superstitious sovereign or 
crafty statesman ; now by some powerful feudal 
noble who desired to associate heaven with the 
prosecution of his ambitious designs, and in any 
national crisis, such as the Tartar and Mongol 
invasions, the coffers of the State were emptied 
into the sacred treasure-chests. Prominent among 
the ancient superstitions of Japan was a belief 
that all evil influences and their abode in the 
northeast, the Demons' Gate [Kimon). Due 
northeast of the Imperial Palace in Kyoto stood 
the mountain of Hiyei, and there, to guard the 
Court against demoniacal approaches, Dengyo, a 
celebrated Buddhist priest of the ninth century, 
founded a monastery which by and by grew to 
be a town of three thousand buildings, inhabited 
by from thirty to forty thousand monks, the 
great majority of whom could wield a halberd 
much better than they could intone a litany. The 
example set at Hiyei-no-yama — or Hiyei-zan, 
as the place is now called — was soon followed by 
other congregations of religionists, and the pow- 
erful bands of tonsured soldiers [Sohei) thus organ- 
ised became one of the most turbulent and 
unmanageable elements in the State. Theological 
questions troubled them little. They interested 
themselves much more vividly in the fortunes of the 



nobles or the sovereigns from whom they derived 
their own wealth, and since they soon learned to 
employ the shrewd device of combining esoteric 
and exoteric influences by carrying the holy car 
of Buddha in their armed processions, their enmity 
became as formidable as their alliance was valu- 
able. Nothing bears stronger testimony to the 
religious instincts of the Japanese than the fact 
that, despite the violent incursions perpetually 
made by the monks into the domain of politics, 
from the time of Shirakawa's reign (1073— 1087) 
down to the second half of the sixteenth century, 
the monasteries almost invariably escaped the 
destruction that overtook the strongholds of 
nobles whose cause they espoused. But Nobu- 
naga measured out ruthless justice to these trucu- 
lent religionists. A soldier before everything, 
he had no compassion for any obstacle that 
barred his military path. If he did not shrink 
from putting his own brother and his wife's 
father to the sword, neither did he hesitate to 
deluge a monastery with blood before he reduced 
it to ashes, or to set up, with imperious incon- 
stancy, his own effigy among the images of the 
gods whose fanes he had annihilated. Some of 
the most powerful Buddhist associations had sided 
with his political enemies, and he determined not 
only to root them out, but also to destroy per- 
manently their mischievous potentialities. 

It was at the moment when this fury against the 
Buddhist priests had reached destructive heat, that 



the Jesuit fathers appHed to Nobunaga for a 
charter of propagandism, and received from him 
an extensive grant of land in Kyoto, a yearly al- 
lowance of money and authority to take up their 
residence in the capital. The Owari chieftain 
does not seem to have entertained any respect 
for Christianity. Religion, in whatsoever guise, 
occupied an insignificant space on his moral 
horizon. His unique motive was to set up an 
opponent to the doctrine that had begotten such 
troublesome factors in the realm. Christianity 
was nothing to him for its own sake. As a rival 
of Buddhism it might be much. 

From using the foreign faith for political pur- 
poses to suspecting it of political designs the 
interval was short, and Nobunaga's intelligence 
soon traversed it. His scrutiny of the Jesuits' 
methods — their profuse almsgiving, their tend- 
ance of the sick, their exercise of unprecedented 
medical skill — convinced him that they aimed 
at something more than saving men's souls, and 
he had begun to revolve plans for their expulsion 
when death overtook him at the hand of a 
traitor. But even the brief favour extended by 
him to Christianity had been disapproved by the 
man who avenged his fate and succeeded to his 
power, Hideyoshi, the Taiko. 

The annals of the Jesuits ascribe to the mean- 
est and paltriest motives the animosity that the 
Talk's ultimately displayed towards their faith. 
It is impossible to accept their evidently preju- 

TOL. UI. — 8 IIJ 


diced verdict. The Taiko, like all Japanese of 
his era, was without any experience of interna- 
tional intercourse, but his statecraft rose to the 
height of genius. It is inconceivable that a man 
of such profound insight could tail to detect the 
political import of the credentials from secular 
authorities with which the Jesuit fathers came 
provided, or to appreciate the material character 
that the conquests of the Cross might be made 
to assume. He had learned by heart every lesson 
that the annals of his own country could teach. 
He knew how Buddhism, originally an instru- 
ment in the hands of Japanese statesmen, had 
ultimately defied their authority, raised itself 
even above the Imperial Court, and developed 
military strength with which the most powerful 
feudal nobles hesitated to cross swords. The 
story of the very sect against which the animos- 
ity of his leader and patron, Oda Nobunaga, 
burned most relentlessly, showed what even a 
creed of gentle tenets and refining influences like 
Buddhism might become in the hands of militant 
propagandists. He perceived that Christianity 
evinced nothing of the eclecticism or adaptability 
which had prevented a collision between Bud- 
dhism and the ancestral cult of the Japanese. 
He saw that the Jesuit fathers spurned all com- 
promise ; that the disciple of every other faith 
was to them an infidel, a pagan, a child of the 
devil ; that their fierce zeal, heated white in fires 
of which no reflection had yet been cast on the 


horizon of Japan, drove them from the outset to 
excesses of intolerance presaging a national catas- 
trophe as soon as Buddhism found itself forced 
to fight for its life. The Taiko owed much of 
his remarkable success to a fine sense of propor- 
tion. He possessed the gift of measuring with 
precision the strength of offence or defence that 
a given combination of men or things would 
develop under certain contingencies. Nothing 
is more improbable than that he underestimated 
the immense potentialities for resistance, or, if 
need be, for aggressive destructiveness, possessed 
by Japanese Buddhism in his time ; an imperiu?n 
in imperio, dowered with vast stores of wealth, 
wielding a military organisation which, were its 
various parts combined against a common foe, 
would hold the whole realm at its mercy, and 
historically capable of efforts so strong even for 
the petty purposes of a sectarian squabble that 
their supreme exercise in a life-and-death struggle 
with Christianity could not be contemplated 
without the gravest misgivings. Vaguely, per- 
haps, but still in outlines sufficiently distinct to 
suggest a lurid picture, these eventualities must 
have presented themselves to his strong intelli- 
gence, and as the cries of dying priests and the 
crash of falling temples reached his ears from 
Kiushiu where the Christian propagandists were 
harrying their opponents with the faggot and the 
sword, he may well have begun to appreciate 
the dimensions of the impending catastrophe. 



He did not, however, immediately take steps to 
evince his disapproval of militant Christianity, 
nor when the time seemed ripe for proscribing it 
did he proceed to extremities. The crucifixion 
spear does not appear to have suggested itself to 
him as a prudent weapon for combating moral 
convictions. It is true that in the heat of his 
first anti-Christian demonstration he caused two 
men to be executed, and it is also true that he 
deprived a Christian noble of his fief by way of 
penalty for the constancy of his faith. But, for 
the rest, he remained content with the razing 
of a few chapels, and with a public declaration 
that he would not tolerate, on the part of Chris- 
tian propagandists, any recourse to the violent 
methods of which the country had garnered 
such painful experiences in the case of the 
Buddhist Sdheiy and of which the Christians had 
already shown themselves ready employers. 
There is nothing to indicate that, had Christian- 
ity thenceforth relied solely on legitimate 
weapons, the pulpit, education, and example, 
paying due respect to the laws of the land and 
extending to others the toleration that it claimed 
for itself — there is nothing to indicate that it 
might not have retained, strengthened, and ex- 
tended the footing it had gained in Japan, and 
that the Japanese might not then have finally 
entered the arena of international intercourse and 
competition, instead of isolating themselves for 
nearly three centuries until they had been almost 



hopelessly distanced in the race of material 

But a new influence now made itself felt. 
The Jesuits were assailed by an enemy from 
within the fold. Hitherto they had been with- 
out sectarian rivals in Japan. Their precedence 
in the field was regarded as constituting a title to 
its monopoly, and a Papal Bull had assigned the 
Far-Eastern islands as their special diocese. 
Now, however, the Spaniards took steps to dis- 
pute their ascendancy by sending an envoy from 
the Philippines to complain of some alleged 
illegality on the part of Portuguese merchants. 
In the envoy's train came a number of Francis- 
cans, and when the Jesuits remonstrated, and 
called attention to the Papal Bull, the Francis- 
cans gave an ingenuous reply. They had observed 
the Bull, they said, since they had not come as 
religionists but as members of an ambassador's 
suite, and having thus by lawful means sur- 
mounted the difficulty of getting to Japan, there 
was no longer any just impediment to their 
preaching there. Very soon they made their 
presence felt in a pernicious manner. Hitherto 
the Japanese had been left to draw their own 
conclusions as to the political contingencies of 
Christian propagandism. Thenceforth they re- 
ceived ample material for suspicion from the 
Portuguese and the Spaniards themselves, for 
each roundly accused the other of aggressive 
designs against Japan's integrity. Hideyoshi 



strictly interdicted any attempt at religious prop- 
agandism on the part of the Franciscans, whose 
presence in the capital he had sanctioned in an 
ambassadorial capacity only. The Franciscans 
paid not the smallest heed to his veto. Possibly 
they justified their disobedience by some casuistry 
as convincing as their retort to the Jesuits. If 
so, they failed to make the point clear to Hide- 
yoshi. He ordered their arrest, and sent them, 
with three Jesuit fathers and seventeen — some 
records say twenty -four — native Christians to 
Nagasaki, where they were executed. The 
scene was transferred to canvas by a nameless 
European artist of great ability. Crucifixion 
was the method of execution, but not crucifixion 
as practised in the Occident. The victims were 
tied to a cross and pierced from left and right 
simultaneously by sharp spears inserted below the 
ribs and thrust diagonally towards the shoulders. 
Death was generally instantaneous, but sometimes 
the stabs had to be repeated. The painting is 
true in every detail. It portrays, without ex- 
aggerating, the racial types of the victims and 
their slayers, the vinous swagger of the semi- 
brutalised executioner, the ecstatic calm of the 
Fathers, and the awful perspective of the long 
line of crosses with their bleeding burdens. 

This was Hideyoshi's protest, first, against the 
risk of Japan's becoming a battle-field for rival 
creeds from abroad ; secondly, against the defiant 
attitude assumed by the strangers towards secular 



authority, and thirdly, against the political in- 
trigues of which the Christians accused them- 
selves and of which he had long suspected them. 
It is worth while to observe these facts carefully, 
for they lie at the root of all Japan's foreign 

lyeyasu, the Tokugawa chieftain, who suc- 
ceeded to the work of domestic pacification 
already carried within sight of completion by 
Nobunaga and Hideyoshi, did not at first give 
any clear indication of the course that he in- 
tended to pursue towards the Padres and their 
following. But there can be no doubt that the 
Christian problem had attracted his keen atten- 
tion long before the full control of administrative 
affairs came into his hands (1600 a. d.). No 
Japanese statesman could afford to ignore a ques- 
tion which was producing not only widespread 
disturbance, but also a startling change in the rela- 
tions between the classes. In all times, one of 
the results of Roman Catholic propagandism in 
Oriental countries has been to remove the con- 
verts beyond the unchallenged control of the 
civil authorities and to elevate their spiritual 
guides to the rank of secular protectors. The 
members of the Christian community learn to 
believe that their conversion differentiates them 
from the mass of their unregenerate nationals, 
and opens to them a tribunal of appeal against 
any exaction or injustice to which the latter may 
be exposed. Modern diplomatists have often 



been required to consider that outcome of mis- 
sionary enterprise in China. A cognate problem 
forced itself on the attention of Japanese states- 
men from a very early period. The Emperor 
Shirakawa (1073—1087), who, at the zenith of 
his power, complained that only three things in 
his realm defied his authority, — the chances of 
the dice, the waters of the Kamo River, and the 
priests of Buddha, — • was ultimately obliged to 
invoke the assistance of the military nobles against 
the contumacious proceedings of the Buddhist 
prelates, thus inaugurating between the followers 
of the sword and the disciples of the sutras an era 
of feuds which culminated in the fierce exter- 
minations resorted to by Oda Nobunaga. From 
the outset a similar spirit of independence was 
educated by Christian propagandism in Japan. 
It is characteristic of human nature that men 
conspicuously prone to encroach upon the sphere 
of another's rights are proportionately conserva- 
tive of their own. The Roman Catholic priest's 
stout defiance of pagan interference in the foreign 
fields of his labour was but another form of the 
zeal that impelled him to protect orthodoxy with 
the faggot and the rack in Europe. lyeyasu 
mounted the administrative throne at a time 
when these things forced themselves upon polit- 
ical attention. He had seen Franciscan monks 
trample upon the veto of the Tailzd within the 
very shadow of the latter's castle. He had seen 
Christians in Nagasaki successfully ignore the 



orders of the men appointed by the Taiko to re- 
strain them. He had seen the Padres resume 
their preaching almost immediately after the issue 
of a prohibitory edict. He had seen the unprece- 
dented spectacle of heiniin (commoners) accepting 
from the alien creed a commission to oppose 
samurai authority. He had seen the persecuting 
intolerance of the foreign faith constitute a new 
menace to the tranquillity which it was his hope, 
and seemingly his mission, to restore to his tired 
countrymen. It can scarcely be doubted, there- 
fore, that lyeyasu was opposed to Christianity 
from the first. Besides, whether from policy or 
conviction, he was himself a devotee of Buddhism. 
He carried in his bosom an image of Amida, and 
in seventy-three battles he had donned no armour, 
avowedly trusting solely to the protection of the 
god he worshipped. The quality of this great 
leader's piety is not here a matter of concern. 
He may have been prompted mainly by a desire 
to win to his cause influences which, when op- 
posed, had shown themselves strong and mis- 
chievous. But that a man who encouraged his 
followers to regard him as an incarnation of one 
of Yakushi's Arhats, and professed to consider a 
miniature effigy of Kuro Honzon better protec- 
tion than cuirass or hauberk against sword or 
arrow, should ever have seriously entertained the 
idea of countenancing Christianity, is an unrea- 
sonable supposition. On the other hand, con- 
ciliation and tolerance were essential factors in 



the administration of lyeyasu. He never resorted 
to violence where his end seemed capable of be- 
ing compassed by tact. Thus, although, in the 
year 1600, he proclaimed his policy by means of 
an edict banishing Christian propagandists, as the 
Taiko had done in 1587, like the Taiko he took 
no conclusive steps to enforce the order. For a 
moment, indeed, it seemed as though the edict 
would be followed by drastic measures. Shortly 
after its issue the Christian places of worship 
in Kyoto were destroyed and several followers of 
the faith met their death. But active persecution 
ceased there, so far as the central authorities were 

In the provinces, however, the Christians had 
to endure suffering. They reaped as they had 
sown. The detailed story need not be told. 
It bears further testimony to the fact that the 
fortunes of the Western creed in each district 
depended on the prejudice or caprice of the 
feudal chief governing there, and were conse- 
quently exposed to many of the intrigues, 
jealousies, and ambitions which disfigured the 
era. lyeyasu made no attempt to interfere 
between the victims and their local persecutors. 
He had announced his disapproval of Christianity 
and he waited on the course of events. 

Meanwhile, despite local opposition and the 
nominal ban of the central Government, the 
foreign creed constantly gained. In the year 
1605 the number of converts was estimated 



at six hundred thousand, and from Sendai in 
the north to Kagoshima in the south its prop- 
agandists preached openly and its adherents 
worshipped in their own churches. The time 
had come to choose between final toleration or 
resolute extirpation. 

lyeyasu chose the latter. On January the 
twenty-seventh, 1614, he issued a proclamation 
ordering the banishment of the propagandists 
and leaders of Christianity, the destruction of 
their churches, and the compulsory recantation 
of their doctrines. " The Christians," his edict 
said, " have come to Japan not only to carry on 
commerce with their ships, but also to propa- 
gate an evil creed and subvert the true doctrine, 
to the end that they may effect a change of 
government in the country and thus usurp posses- 
sion of it. This seed will produce a harvest 
of unhappiness. It must be eradicated." That 
lyeyasu was fully persuaded of the truth of 
these words, there can be little question. It 
only remains to inquire the proximate causes 
by which he was led to exchange his previous 
attitude of negative disapproval for one of posi- 
tive extermination. 

Several reasons present themselves. The first 
is the issue of a Bull, in 1608, granting to all 
orders of Christianity free access to Japan, From 
the point of view of Rome the step was natural. 
Japan had hitherto been a papally forbidden land 
to all save the Jesuits. Paul the Fifth simply 



rescinded the veto. But from the point of view 
of lyeyasu the incident assumed a very different 
aspect. The Taiko had issued an interdict order- 
ing the withdrawal of all Christian propagandists 
from Japan. The Shogun had repeated the inter- 
dict. The Pope of Rome ignored both vetoes 
and authoritatively threw Japan open to Jesuits, 
Dominicans, Franciscans, anybody and everybody 
wearing a cowl or carrying a Testament. 

The second reason is that lyeyasu found in 
Christianity a formidable obstacle to the realisa- 
tion of his own political projects. After the 
battle of Sekigahara there remained only one 
source of possible peril to the peace which it was 
the Tokugawa leader's highest ambition to secure 
for his country. That source was Hideyori, the 
Taiko' s son. He and his supporters intrigued to 
effect the overthrow of the Tokugawa, and the 
Jesuit Fathers threw in their lot with them, as did 
also a multitude of Christians. The castle at 
Osaka, with its stupendous battlements and almost 
impregnable defences, became a resort for perse- 
cuted or discontented Christians from all parts of 
the Empire. The Padres cannot be reproached 
for the part they chose at that crisis. Scarcely a 
faint hope remained that their faith would ever 
be sanctioned by the Tokugawa, whereas, with 
the Taiko s son at the head of the administration 
and owing his elevation in a large degree to 
Christian aid, there might have dawned for the 
Fathers and their flock an era not merely of State 



tolerance but also of official patronage. Then, 
indeed, events might have justified the premature 
poean of the Dillingen chronicler, that Japan had 
been **won over and incorporated into the true 
fold of the Christian Church." Such a prize was 
worth playing for at heavy risks. The Padres 
played for it and failed. lyeyasu's sentence of 
banishment and extermination overtook them in 
1614, and in the following year Osaka Castle was 
given to the flames after a struggle that is said to 
have cost a hundred thousand lives. 

Yet another reason for the Tokugawa chief's 
recourse to drastic measures must be noted. The 
Dutch, concluding a commercial convention with 
Japan in 1610, naturally sought to oust the Portu- 
guese from the monopoly that they held of Jap- 
anese trade, and to that end they roundly accused 
both Portuguese and Spaniards of prostituting 
Christian propagandism to political intrigue, and 
of concealing designs against Japan's integrity 
under the cloak of her religious regeneration. 
The English, who soon afterwards gained access 
to Japan's markets, adopted the tactics of the 
Dutch. It was easy to show from contemporary 
history that such accusations rested on bases at 
least highly plausible. Nobunaga had more than 
suspected something of the kind thirty years be- 
fore either Dutch or English preferred the accu- 
sation ; the Taiko had shared the suspicion, and 
I^ eyasu, with a wider range of experience to 
guide him, would probably have passed from sus- 



picion to certainty even without the testimony of 
Hollanders or British. A good deal has been 
urged in modern times by way of apology for 
the conduct of the English and the Dutch, 
Some have even denied the charge on behalf 
of one, or the other, or both. There is no occa- 
sion for either repudiation or extenuation. Con- 
sidering the relations between Roman Catholicism 
and Protestantism, between England and Spain, 
and between Holland and Portugal at that era, and 
recalling the canons of commercial combats and 
the rules of the religious lists at the beginning 
of the seventeenth century, it becomes evident 
that things fell out in Japan exactly as might 
have been predicated. 

The facts here set down compel an impartial his- 
torian to admit that what Japan did in 1614, most 
European States would have done under the same 
circumstances at the same epoch. An impartial 
historian will probably go a great deal farther. He 
will conclude that the measures of expulsion and 
eradication adopted by Japan in 1614 would have 
been adopted forty or fifty years earlier by any 
European State under pressure of the same incen- 
tives. No European State would have tolerated 
for a moment the things that were perpetrated in 
the name of Christianity between 1560 and 1576 
in Nagasaki and Bungo, and between 1597 and 
1600 in Higo. No European State would have 
suffered the propagandists of a foreign faith to 
settle within its borders and excite a section of its 



population to make a holocaust of the national 
places of worship, and to stone, slaughter, and 
banish their priests. If Japan endured these out- 
rages for a time, it was because her strength of 
national self-assertion was paralysed by division. 
The central administration had no power to pre- 
scribe a uniform policy to the multitude of irre- 
sponsible and semi-independent principalities into 
which the country was divided, and in the rival 
ambitions of the various territorial magnates 
whose cause the missionary promoted with arms 
and gold, he found temporary safety and patronage. 
The integration of the Empire, first under Hide- 
yoshi, subsequently and more completely under 
lyeyasu, was the signal for recourse to measures 
which, were they embodied in a chapter of con- 
temporary Occidental history, would not have 
seemed either incongruous or abnormal. 

There is no occasion to describe in detail the 
struggle that ensued between religious fanaticism 
and the exterminating zeal of officials who be- 
lieved themselves to be obeying the highest 
instincts of patriotic statecraft. The story has 
already occupied many pens. Terrible things 
were done, things worthy of Torquemada and 
Ximenes, and the long tragedy culminated in a 
rebellion which involved the death of from thirty 
to forty thousand Christians and the final expul- 
sion of the Portuguese from Japan. This rebel- 
lion — celebrated in history as the " Shimabara 
Revolt" — was brought to a close in the spring 



of 1638. Shortly before its outbreak an edict of 
the most drastic nature was promulgated. It de- 
clared that any Japanese subject attempting to go 
abroad, or any Japanese subject already abroad 
who attempted to return home, should be exe- 
cuted ; it directed that all foreigners professing 
Christianity should be imprisoned at Omura ; it 
forbade Eurasian children to reside in Japan, and 
it decreed banishment for any persons adopting 
an Eurasian child and severe punishment for their 
relatives. Four years later, the Dutch were re- 
quired to confine themselves to Deshima. They 
had succeeded in effectually prejudicing the Jap- 
anese against the Portuguese and the Spaniards, but 
they had not succeeded in preserving any large 
measure of respect for themselves. 

These cruel and illiberal measures crowned 
Japan's policy of restriction and isolation, — a 
policy which may be said to have commenced on 
a radical scale with the proclamation of lyeyasu 
in 1 6 14, and to have culminated in the imprison- 
ment of the Dutch at Deshima in 1641 by his 
grandson, lyeyasu, the third Tokugawa Shogun. 
In that interval another step, wholly destructive 
of maritime enterprise, was taken by the same 
lyeyasu. It has already been alluded to. He 
ordered that all vessels of sea-going capacity 
should be destroyed, and that no craft should 
thenceforth be built of sufficient size to venture 
beyond home waters. 

A more complete metamorphosis of a nation's 



policy could scarcely be conceived. In 1541 we 
find the Japanese celebrated, or notorious, through- 
out the whole of the Far East for exploits abroad ; 
we find them known as the " Kings of the Sea ; " 
we find them welcoming foreigners with cor- 
diaUty and opposing no obstacles to foreign com- 
merce or even to the propagandism of foreign 
creeds ; we find them so quick to recognise the 
benefits of trade and so apt to pursue them that, 
in the space of a few years, they establish 
commercial relations with no less than twenty 
over-sea markets ; we find them authorising the 
Portuguese and the English to trade at every port 
in the Empire ; we find, in short, all the elements 
requisite for a career of commercial enterprise, 
ocean-going adventure and international liberality. 
In 1 64 1 everything is reversed. Trade is inter- 
dicted to all Western people except the Dutch, 
and they are confined to a little island, two hun- 
dred yards in length by eighty yards in width. 
The least symptom of predilection for an aHen 
creed is punished with awful rigour. Any attempt 
to leave the limits of the realm involves decapita- 
tion. Not a ship large enough to pass beyond 
the shadow of the coast may be built. 

However unwelcome the admission, it is ap- 
parent that for all these changes Christianity was 
responsible. The policy of seclusion adopted by 
Japan in the early part of the seventeenth century 
and resolutely pursued until the middle of the 
nineteenth, was anti-Christian, not anti-foreign. 

VOL. in. — 9 129 


The fact cannot be too clearly recognised. It is 
the chief lesson taught by the events outlined 
above. Throughout the whole of that period of 
isolation, Occidentals were not known to the 
Japanese by any of the terms now in common 
use, — as gwaikoku-jiriy seiyo-jin, or i-jin, which em- 
body the simple meaning, foreigner, or Western, 
or alien : they were popularly called bateren (padre). 
Thus completely had foreign intercourse and 
Christian propagandism become identified in the 
eyes of the people. And when it is remembered 
that "foreign intercourse " associated with Chris- 
tianity had come to be synonymous in Japanese 
ears with foreign aggression, with the subversal 
of the Mikado's sacred dynasty, and with the loss 
of the independence of the Country of the Gods, 
there is no difficulty in understanding the attitude 
of the nation's mind towards this question. In 
these considerations, too, is found a reason for the 
lack of any element of national ambition in the 
ultimate policy of lyeyasu, and from first to last 
in the policy of his greatest successor, lyemitsu. 


Chapter IV 


NOTHING is more remarkable in the 
history of the Tokugawa epoch than 
the absence of anything like organ- 
ised rebellion for many generations. 
Nevertheless at an early period of the epoch 
there appeared upon the stage a turbulent figure 
which remained more or less in evidence until 
modern days. This was the ronin, or ** wave- 
man," an epithet applied to samurai who, believ- 
ing themselves charged with a mission to mend 
the times, refrained from joining the service of 
any fief, and wandered about, ready to take a part 
in all adventures that showed a colouring of senti- 
ment. Some of them, originally vassals of feudal 
houses upon whose ruins the Tokugawa had risen 
to power, were only obeying the dictates of loyalty 
when they refused to bow to the Yedo rule. Some 
had no grievance except their own inability to 
conquer fortune ; and many, swayed by the pure 
spirit of knight-errantry, passed from place to 
place for the sole purpose of measuring swords 


with fencers of repute wherever such might be 
found. When, in the fourth generation of the 
Tokugawa, the office of Shogun fell to a boy of 
eleven, a number of these wave-men " imagined 
that the time had come for a grand coup. They 
plotted to set Yedo on fire and to attack the 
castle in the confusion. Happily detection pre- 
ceded the act. The leaders died by their own 
hands or under the sword of the executioner, and 
for a long era no repetition of such enterprises 
disturbed the public peace. The seventeenth- 
century ronin are not to be regarded, however, 
as the outcome of a transient mood of political 
unrest. They represented a conviction apparently 
inherent in the Japanese mind, that every man 
possesses a natural right to assert his opinion in 
whatever manner he chooses, provided that he 
accepts the full consequences of his choice. 
That is the most emphatic form assumed by 
Japanese individualism. There is no element 
of license in the theory : a morally justifiable 
motive must always exist. But that condition 
satisfied, a man may demonstrate the sincerity 
and earnestness of his views by sacrificing his own 
life or that of another. The motive warrants the 
method — which may be called the Japanese ver- 
sion of the end justifies the means. 

The era (i66i-i68o)of this fourth Tokugawa 
Shogun, lyetsuna, was remarkable for other things 
as well as for the lawlessness of the " wave-men." 
From that time the Tokugawa began to fare as 



all great families of previous ages had fared : the 
substance of administrative power passed into the 
hands of a Minister, its shadow alone remaining 
to the Shogun. Sakai Takakiyo was the chief 
author of this change. Secluded from contact 
with the outer world, the Shogmi, a man of weak 
intellect, saw and heard only through the eyes 
and ears of the ladies of his household. Takakiyo 
caused an order to be issued forbidding all access 
to the Court ladies except by ministerial permit. 
Thenceforth the Sfiogun became practically deaf 
and dumb. He knew nothing of the novel 
channels into which public opinion was beginning 
to drift, of the calamities that marked the era, 
or of the irreverence that his officials displayed 
towards the Throne. For Yedo having been de- 
vastated by conflagrations and the nation afflicted 
by famine, the ministers of the Shogunate, de- 
claring that these misfortunes were attributable 
to the Emperor's unworthiness, caused him to 
abdicate in favour of the heir apparent. They 
thus practised the democratic principles laid down 
by Mencius, and not a voice of protest was raised, 
the feudatories being completely overawed by the 
might of the Shogun, and the Court nobles silenced 
by the munificence of the Yedo administration. 
The one authoritative act of his life was done by 
lyetsuna in the hour of death. Hotta Masatoshi, 
a loyal minister, went secretly to his side and 
warned him that a scheme was on foot to transfer 
the office of Shogun to an Imperial Prince. Ta- 



kakiyo had conceived this plot, borrowing a model 
from the policy of the Hojo in Kamakura. His 
ambition was to secure for himself and his de- 
scendants the position of Vicegerent. But the 
insignia of the Shogunate — a Masamune sword 
and a Kunimitsu dagger — were handed by the 
dying Shogun at midnight to Hotta Masatoshi, 
and when morning broke the conspirators found 
the dead man's office occupied by his brother, 

This is a particularly interesting epoch of 
Japan's history. It saw the first manifestations 
of a public opinion destined to culminate in the 
remarkable radicalism of the nation's nineteenth- 
century career. The Shogun' s ministers, when 
they placed upon the Emperor's shoulders re- 
sponsibility for his subjects' suffering, furnished 
an unwitting proof of the tendency of the time, 
for it was from the writings of the Chinese 
philosophers that they borrowed such an idea. 
On the other hand, the outrage thus offered to 
the traditions of imperialism reacted in aid of 
a revival then commencing, the revival of the 
Shinto cult. Fate, as usual ironical, placed the 
Shogun (Tsunayoshi) himself in the forefront of 
this movement, though no great perspicacity 
should have been needed to show him that a 
cult based on the divinity of the Emperor was 
irreconcilable with the Tokugawa's pretensions 
to administrative supremacy. Perhaps, if his 
appreciation of Shinto had not been prompted 



by a woman,^ Tsunayoshi might have showed 
greater political insight. But on the whole 
it seems juster to conclude that his love of learn- 
ing overmastered all considerations of expediency, 
and made him at the close of the seventeenth 
century an unconscious contributor to influences 
which in the middle of the nineteenth were to 
work the downfall of his house. 

But the Shinto revival was by no means as 
remarkable as a very pronounced development 
of political philosophy. At the head of the 
latter movement stood Hotta Masatoshi, by 
whose bold and timely action the succession to 
the Shogunate had been preserved in the Toku- 
gawa family. Masatoshi was the first feudal 
statesman of Japan to enunciate the doctrine 
that the people are the basis of a nation, and 
to put it into practice by encouraging agricul- 
ture, protecting farmers against fiscal extortion, 
and endeavouring to propagate the tenets of a 
high morality among plebeians as well as samurai. 
Assassination, the common fate of too ardent 
reformers, terminated his noble career, but did 
not check the philosophic impulse he repre- 
sented. It found a still more ardent and radical 
exponent in Kumazawa Banzan, chief factor of 
the Okayama fief. This memorable publicist's 
ethics were that every one in authority had a 
mission to fulfil, namely, to promote the pros- 
perity and happiness of those over whom he 

^ See Appendix, note 25. 


ruled ; that the Emperor was the true head of 
the nation, the Shogun only his representative ; 
that official attempts to extirpate Christianity 
were futile, for, if a true creed, it would survive 
all opposition, and, if false, it would die a natural 
death ; that Buddhism was destined to be a 
source of national trouble, and that its priests 
would ultimately become vagrant thieves ; and 
that the samurai were virtually bandits, subsisting 
on unearned salaries and regarding the Emperor 
as a mere effigy, the people as dirt. 

At the time when these theories were pro- 
claimed by Banzan, any profession of Christianity 
involved terrible punishment ; every unit of the 
nation had to be inscribed on the nominal roll 
of some Buddhist temple and to be prepared to 
bear public testimony to anti-Christian sentiment 
by trampling upon a picture of the Cross ; the 
Buddhists bathed in the favour of the two 
Courts ; the Shogun s power overshadowed the 
whole Empire, and the samurai, of whom Banzan 
himself was one, had lost nothing of their old 
prestige nor forfeited anything of their exclusive 
privileges. Courage to stand in open and fla- 
grant opposition to such conditions savours of 
fanaticism. But Banzan had nothing of the 
fanatic. In Okayama where, as chief factor, he 
wielded large powers, his irrigation works, his 
conservation of forests, his encouragement of 
general education, and his suppression of priestly 
abuses furnished a striking object lesson in the 



practical application of his doctrines. It does 
not appear that, for a considerable time at any 
rate, his philosophy provoked any resentment. 
He enjoyed the full confidence of his feudal 
chief, and when he followed the latter to Yedo, 
every second year, the magnates of the Shoguns 
Court took pleasure in listening to his disserta- 
tions. But the sainurai ultimately roused official 
prejudice against him, and he had to retire from 
public life. His theories, however, had taken 
root. In Mito there arose a school of thinkers 
who adopted his doctrine as to the proper func- 
tions of Imperialism in the administration of 
State affairs, though they reversed his verdict 
against Buddhism, their conviction being that 
the unification of the nation could be best 
effected by the cooperation of the Buddhist and 
Shi?ito creeds. 

Mito was the baronial capital of the province 
of Hitachi, which had been given in fief to a 
younger son of lyeyasu. Owari and Kishu were 
assigned to his other sons, and these three fam- 
ilies enjoyed the privilege of furnishing an heir 
to the Shogun, should the latter be without direct 
issue. Mito, therefore, ought to have been a 
most unlikely place for the conception and prop- 
agation of principles subversive of the Shogufi's 
administrative autocracy. But what happened in 
Mito at the close of the seventeenth century was 
a natural result of the trend that lyeyasu himself 
had given to public thought by wholesale encour- 



agement of the study of Chinese philosophy, 
lyeyasu, as has been shown above, did not possess 
sufficient knowledge of that philosophy to fore- 
cast the effect of its adoption, and similarly his 
grandson, Komon of Mito, swayed by the spirit 
of pure studentship, discerned nothing of the 
goal to which the new researches and specula- 
tions must lead the literati of his fief. He and 
they, for the sake of history and without any 
thought of politics, undertook a retrospect of 
Japanese annals, and their frank analysis, having 
been embodied in a book called Dai-Nihon Shi, 
furnished conclusive proof that the Emperor was 
the prime source of administrative authority, and 
that its independent exercise by the Shogun must 
be regarded as a usurpation. They did not at- 
tempt to give practical effect to their discoveries. 
The era was essentially academical. But its 
galaxy of scholars projected into the future a 
light which burned with growing force in each 
succeeding generation, and ultimately burst into 
flames that consumed feudalism and the Shogun- 
ate. No such result suggested itself to the men 
of the time, however. Not until the lapse of 
several years had furnished a true perspective did 
it become possible to perceive that all these cur- 
rents of unwonted thought — the democracy of 
Masatoshi, the anti-feudalism of Banzan, the 
Shinto revival of Masayuki and Ansai, the 
imperialism of Komon, the Confucianism of 
Fujiwara T5ru and Hayashi Doshin — flowed 



towards a common issue, national unification and 
the restoration of the governing authority to the 

The first to appreciate the tendency of these 
philosophic revolutions was Arai Hakuseki, a 
minister of the sixth Shoguriy lyenobu. He pro- 
posed to avert the danger by fortifying the autoc- 
racy of the Yedo administration. Following 
his counsels, the Shogun began to exercise the 
right of appointing and removing all officials 
throughout the Empire, and changed the uni- 
forms and titles of his own officials so as to trans- 
form the Yedo Court into a replica of that of 
Kyoto. He styled himself " King " for the pur- 
pose of giving audience to a Korean ambassador, 
and he made arrangements to receive an Imperial 
Princess for his consort. These aggressions 
might have been carried so far as to radically 
alter the course of Japanese history had not the 
Shogun died after three years of rule, had not his 
successor also died before emerging from child- 
hood, and had not the eighth Sh'dgun, Yoshi- 
mune, read the signs of the times incorrectly. 
Arai and his almost equally sagacious coadjutor, 
Mabe Norifusa, were now dismissed from office, 
and a strictly conservative policy was inaugurated, 
lasting for thirty years (17 16-1745). Yoshi- 
mune and his ministers, though not unconscious 
of the tide of change that was setting strongly 
throughout the national life, failed to analyse its 
causes and endeavoured to stem rather than to 



direct it. They observed unprecedented luxury 
on the part of merchants and farmers and equally 
conspicuous poverty among the samurai, and they 
imagined that the only way to mend this to 
them incongruous state of things was to enforce 
a system of strict economy, and to restrain by 
sumptuary laws the growing extravagance of the 
inferior classes. 

But the sources of the change were beyond 
the reach of such methods. During the first 
one hundred and thirty years of Tokugawa rule 
the samurai, no longer required to lead the frugal 
life of camp or barracks, and occupying a posi- 
tion midway between the aristocracy and the 
people, began to live beyond their incomes. 
They ceased to be able to support retainers, and 
found difficulty in meeting the pecuniary engage- 
ments of every-day existence, so that money ac- 
quired new importance in their eyes and they 
gradually forfeited the respect which their tradi- 
tional disinterestedness had won for them in the 
past. At the same time the abuses of feudalism 
grew more and more conspicuous as the tranquil- 
lity of the Empire deepened. A large body of 
hereditary soldiers, supported from generation to 
generation at public charges, may find an excuse 
for existence when war affi3rds an opportunity 
for their employment, but they become an anom- 
maly and a burden when fighting has passed out 
of sight and even out of memory. In the middle 
of the eighteenth century the samurai presented 



themselves to the people in the light of useless 
office-holders, who checked the advancement of 
men of talent, maintained towards the commoner 
an attitude of pretension based upon obsolete 
claims, preserved the continuity of their hereditary 
emoluments by the device of adoption, clamoured 
constantly for the creation of new sinecures, and 
losing, under the stress of poverty, their old in- 
dependence of character, became suppliants for 
monetary assistance from men whom they still 
professed to despise, and even went so far as to 
sell their family names. On the other hand, the 
agricultural and commercial classes alike acquired 
new importance. In the case of the former the 
change was to some extent factitious. A legal 
veto existed against either the permanent sale of 
land or its division where the process resulted in 
an area of less than two and a half acres or a 
producing capacity of less than ten koku (fifty 
bushels, approximately). Thus, in order that an 
estate might be shared with a brother or appor- 
tioned among two sons, it must have a super- 
ficies of at least five acres, or a producing 
capacity of one hundred bushels. The result 
was that, in very many cases, second sons or 
younger brothers became labourers or tenants, 
and small land-holders disappearing, a class of 
" gentleman farmers " came into existence, who 
lived on their rents and were strangers to physi- 
cal toil in any shape. Meanwhile the enor- 
mous sums disbursed every year in Yedo for the 



maintenance of the great establishments that the 
feudal chiefs kept there, enriched the merchants 
and traders so greatly that their scale of living 
improved, and, like the land-owners, they in- 
dulged freely in the extravagances typical of the 
time, — tobacco smoking, sake drinking, vermicelli 
eating, and sugar consuming. The wealthy city- 
tradesman and the opulent provincial landlord 
could not fail to acquire an increasing perception 
of the gulf between the impecunious samurai and 
themselves. They resented his airs without ap- 
preciating his spirit. Excluded from the small- 
est share in the central administration, they had 
no sense of national duty, nor did they recognise 
any public obligation except the payment of 
taxes, any ethical principle except obedience to 
parents, or any limit to pleasure-seeking except 
lack of money. Religious influences were very 
feeble. Christianity had disappeared, and Bud- 
dhism was discredited by the conduct of its 
priests, who thought more of gratifying the flesh 
than of saving souls. Houses of ill-fame stood 
facing the entrances to temples and shrines, and a 
street in Yedo was frequented solely by the vota- 
ries of unnatural vices. The samurai themselves 
were rapidly drawn into this vortex of self-indul- 
gence. Until the final quarter of the seven- 
teenth century the bushi of the northeastern 
districts preserved their martial spirit and made 
comparatively few incursions into the realm of 
amatory passion, Osaka being then the chief 



centre of moral intemperance. But the develop* 
ment of the drama which took place at this 
epoch, quickly familiarised the citizens of Yedo 
and even its samurai with the southern concep- 
tion of love. Romance and emotionalism took 
the place of martial ideas and soldierly stoicism. 
The strict sumptuary laws of the Tokugawa, 
while ostensibly observed, were in reality evaded 
by the use of costly linings for coats and the 
wearing of silk undergarments, and the lower 
classes, emerging from their old position of 
penury and degradation, seemed to be seeking 
in a sudden access of voluptuous license com- 
pensation for long centuries of social ostracism. 
All these changes were contemporaneous with 
the remarkable intellectual awakening alluded to 
above, which culminated in the almost fanatical 
philosophy of Ito Jinsai, a man of singular mag- 
netism and burning eloquence, who for forty 
years never ceased to travel through the country, 
preaching the Analects of Confucius and the 
Teachings of Mencius as the only true moral 
guides, and winning disciples in every part of 
the Empire except the almost inaccessible prov- 
ince of Hida and the islands of Sado and Iki. 
Almost on the same level of intellectual capacity 
and power of moving his fellows was Ogyu Sorai, 
who taught that morality could not have a psy- 
chological basis, but must be founded on the 
practical side of natural and human life. The 
original ideas of these two students and their 



fluent speech created a new epoch. Sorai took 
for models the poetry of the Tang dynasty and 
the Hterature of the Sui and the Kan^ and his 
methods were assisted by men of letters who had 
immigrated from China, and whose instruction 
in the sounds of the ideographs had the effect of 
imparting unprecedented value to rhetoric. Yet 
these drafts upon China's wealth of philosophy 
and erudition served rather as grounds for new 
departures than as models for exact imitation. 
The tendency of the era was towards originality 
in everything. History received treatment that 
might almost be called scientific at the hands of 
Arai Hakuseki. The emotions and passions 
of humanity found a great dramatic portrayer 
in Chikamatsu Monzayemon. Elegance and 
conciseness of phraseology had an unsurpassed 
exponent in Matsuo Basho, the celebrated com- 
poser of impressionist stanzas. Keichiu success- 
fully rehabilitated the memory of Japan's ancient 
age of classic poetry, the age which produced 
" The Collection of a Thousand Leaves " [Man- 
yoshiu). Kitamura Kigiu performed a similar 
office for the Heian epoch. Kada Azuma-maro 
and his great pupil, Kamo Mabuchi, purged the 
Japanese language of its exotic elements, and re- 
vivified popular faith in the divinity of the Throne 
and in the traditions of Imperial government. 
In brief, men's thoughts shook off the trammels 
of convention ; material prosperity asserted its 
superiority over caste distinctions ; the nation, 



freed from the long stress of anarchy and warfare, 
began to project its intelligence along original 
lines ; domestic literature refused to be ignored 
in favour of foreign ; Japanese ideas found inspi- 
ration at home instead of seeking it solely in 
China ; the facts of history marshalled them- 
selves in protest against the arbitrary acts of its 
makers ; the commoner ceased to recognise the 
social gulf between himself and the samurai, and 
symptoms of distaste for the old systems and the 
old usurpations became more and more apparent. 

It was to such a tide of change that the Shogun 
Yoshimune and his ministers attempted, in the 
first half of the eighteenth century, to oppose 
barriers of economic precepts and sumptuary reg- 
ulations. Arai Hakuseki (1709-17 12) had con- 
ceived that the only way to save the Shogunate 
was by a renewed exercise of the despotic forces 
which had established it, whereas Yoshimune 
sought safety in retrenchment of expenditures 
and curtailment of spectacular displays which, 
though wasteful in his eyes, really conduced to 
maintain the dignity of the Yedo Court. As 
between the two policies, that of Arai would 
probably have served the occasion better, but that 
of Yoshimune was inspired by clear appreciation 
of the virtues which alone could make feudalism 
.olerable. The loyalty and courage of the samu- 
rai, his noble contempt for money, his simple 
habits and frugal life had constituted a moral 
title to the position he occupied. Yoshimune 

VOL. III. 10 


and the able officials he employed — among 
whom was the Solon of Japan, the great judge 
Ooka Tadasuke — sought to bring about a renais- 
sance of these fine qualities by inculcating frugal- 
ity and exemplifying it in the practice of the 
Shogun's Court, on the one hand, and by taking 
steps to revive the popularity of military exercises, 
on the other. At the same time, many improve- 
ments were effected in the civil and criminal 
laws ; encouragement was given to industry, and, 
what is even more noteworthy, official vetoes 
being removed from the study of foreign lan- 
guages and sciences, the influence of Occidental 
civilisation began to be felt. 

All this was excellent in its way. The nation 
appreciated it, and history calls the Kyoho era 
(1716-1736) an "age of reforms" as distin- 
guished from the Genroku era (i 688-1 703), an 
" age of abuses," when the fifth Shogun Tsunay- 
oshi, abandoning the paths of learning which had 
originally held his feet, lapsed into a state of 
debauchery and vice. 

The Kyoho era may almost be considered the 
prototype of the Meiji epoch, in which modern 
Japan has been so ably led into the routes of 
progress. A further analogy between the two 
epochs is established by the fact that, just as the 
Emperor's administrative power was restored in 
Meiji days, so his prerogatives received unusual 
recognition in 1745, when Yoshimune, desiring 
to transfer the Shogun s office to his son, lyeshige, 



sought the sanction of the Court in Kyoto. Such 
an example of submissiveness had no precedent 
in the annals of the Tokugawa. It stood at the 
very antipodes of the policy advocated by Arai 
Hakuseki, and it should probably be regarded as 
a practical recognition of the doctrines advanced 
by the Mito school of annalists. Had the Em- 
peror desired to bring about the fall of the Sho- 
gunate, an opportunity undoubtedly presented 
itself at that juncture. But the Imperial Court 
had learned to rely on the Tokugawa administra- 
tion, and no idea of a radical change seems to 
have been entertained. It is impossible not to 
admire the spirit of Yoshimune's efforts, though 
their inefficacy must tend to discredit them in 
the pages of history. 

This retrospect arrives now at the second half 
of the eighteenth century, and one of the facts 
that presents itself vividly is the disordered state 
of the Tokugawa finances. The trouble began 
in the Genroku era (1688- 170 3) when the Shogun 
Tsunayoshi, while enacting laws of the most 
stringent character against extravagance of all 
kinds on the part of the people, set no limit 
whatever to the indulgence of his own costly 
caprices, so that the Tokugawa income of some 
three million koku of rice in kind, and 760,000 
riyo in gold, equivalent in all to about four 
millions sterling, proved inadequate to defray the 
outlays of the Yedo Court and the administrative 
expenditures. The financiers of the time saw no 



better remedy than the issue of debased coins. 
Hagiwara Shigehide, the minister responsible 
for the first resort to this device, held singularly 
drastic views. It was his contention that the 
copper coins struck at the mint were mere 
tokens, deriving their value solely from the offi- 
cial stamp they bore, and that they might as 
well be made of potter's clay as of metal if the 
former were sufficiently durable. By applying 
this doctrine tentatively to the gold and silver 
coins and boldly to the copper, he realised 
several millions for the replenishment of the 
treasury. But the evils inseparable from such 
abuses soon presented themselves : prices of com- 
modities rose, and hoarding became the fashion 
of the time. Eleven years later (1706) the same 
method was again employed, and on the accession 
of lyenobu to the Shogunate (1709), Shigehide 
made preparations to issue silver coins contain- 
ing only twelve per cent of pure metal. Many 
circumstances combined to augment the econom- 
ical difficulties of the administration. The state 
of poverty into which the samurai had fallen, 
owing to causes already stated, rendered them 
a menace to the public peace. In Yedo alone, 
at the close of the seventeenth century, 7,690 
military men were almost without means of 
subsistence, and the authorities felt constrained 
to come to their aid. Natural calamities con- 
tributed to the embarrassment. In the year 
1703 an earthquake shook down a large portion 



of the colossal walls of the castle moats in Yedo. 
A conflagration followed, in which thirty-seven 
thousand lives were lost, and a tidal wave de- 
stroyed a hundred thousand people in the districts 
of Sagami, Kazusa, and Awa. In 1708 the 
mountain Fuji suddenly burst from quiescence 
into violent eruption, and vast tracts of country 
were devastated. It was in the year after this 
last event that the debauched student and slave 
of superstition, Tsunayoshi, died, bequeathing to 
his successor a legacy of fanatical laws and finan- 
cial confusion ; and it was then that the genius 
and wise statecraft of A'-ai Hakuseki saved the 
country from being flooded with another issue of 
coins possessing scarcely any intrinsic value. Six 
years sufficed to restore the currency to its old 
standard of purity and to bring prices to their 
normal level ; but when Arai had to surrender 
his office in 171 6, on the accession of the Shogun 
Yoshimune, recourse was again had to debased 
coins, and economical troubles again ensued. 
Something of these embarrassments must be 
ascribed to the drain of gold resulting from the 
country's foreign trade. Japan, in the early days, 
had little to sell to foreign merchants, but found 
much to buy from them. The records say that 
from 1596 to 1638 the exports of precious metals 
amounted to six million riyo of gold (nine and a 
half millions sterling), nine million pounds (avoir- 
dupois) of silver, and some three million pounds 
of copper. These figures represent, in the case 



of gold, nearly one-half, and in the case of silver 
almost the whole, of the coins struck at the mint 
during the same interval. Dutch importers sold 
as much as three and one fourth million dollars 
(Mexican) w^orth of commodities annually to the 
Japanese at that epoch, and not rarely two hun- 
dred Chinese junks might be seen at one time in 
the harbour of Nagasaki. Yet no attempt was 
made to impose official restrictions upon the 
amount of these import transactions, or on the 
consequent exodus of specie, until the last quarter 
of the seventeenth century, and not before 171 5 
were drastic measures adopted to enforce such 
restrictions. The country's store of precious 
metals had by that time been greatly reduced, 
and financiers of mediocre acumen might be 
excused if debasement of the currency suggested 
itself as an easy, sufficient, and profitable method 
of checking the outflow. 

Other unwonted phenomena that gave much 
concern to the Tokugawa rulers in the second 
half of the eighteenth century were the rapid 
growth of cities and the turbulence of agricul- 
turists. The former was a natural result of the 
system inaugurated by lyeyasu, which, by com- 
pelling the feudal magnates to keep establish- 
ments in Yedo, caused a multitude of tradesmen 
to flock to the capital, and thus produced a rapid 
centralisation of wealth. The Shoguns ministers 
saw not only that the scale of living became 
constantly higher, with a corresponding apprecia- 



tion of commodities, but also that the vices 
which flourish wherever men congregate, 
threatened widespread demoralisation. Various 
empirical attempts to check the growth of the 
city proved altogether abortive. Samurai and 
farmers were forbidden to sell their lands to 
merchants, vetoes were imposed on the use of 
costly articles or the wearing of rich apparel, 
and philosophic doctrines were invoked to dis- 
credit the plutocratic tendency of the time. 
The chief effect of such efforts was to impair 
the prestige of the Shogunate by their obvious 
impotency. On the other hand, the heavy 
expenditures imposed on the feudal chiefs for 
the maintenance of their magnificent establish- 
ments in Yedo, where each of them had urban 
and suburban residences of palatial dimensions 
standing in beautiful parks, compelled them to 
have frequent recourse to the farmers for pecuni- 
ary assistance. But the farmers, between whom 
and the samurai the gulf had gradually grown 
less as long-continued peace deprived the latter 
of his uses and as poverty brought him into 
contempt, were no longer the submissive serfs 
of former times. Again and again they revolted 
against the oppressions of the feudatories, and 
on one occasion a vast concourse of rustics, 
aggregating two hundred thousand, were with 
difficulty restrained from marching upon Yedo 
to present a statement of their grievances to the 
Shogun himself. It is true that the ringleaders 



of these demonstrations were severely punished, 
death being commonly meted out to them and 
their families ; but they did not perish fruitlessly, 
for the grievances of their followers generally 
found redress, and the authority of the feudal 
chiefs as well as of the Shoguns government grew 
steadily more apocryphal whenever the ** mat- 
banner and bamboo spear" of the farmer extorted 
consideration from the two-sworded samurai. 

To these factors working for the fall of feuda- 
lism must be added increasing disaffection among 
the samurai themselves, owing to their virtual 
loss of caste in the presence of tradesmen who 
had acquired a new knowledge of the value of 
wealth, and of land-owners who lived sumptuous 
lives without any derogatory labour, and owing, 
above all, to their own penury, which compelled 
them to seek means of subsistence in manual toil. 
With nothing to lose and everything to gain, 
these men were ready to throw themselves into 
any intrigue. It cannot be supposed that they 
cared much about theories of government. Yet 
they took trouble to rouse the Court nobles in 
Kyoto to a sense of the evils of divided power, 
as between the Emperor and the Shogun, and 
to expose the national defects of feudalism. 
They failed to produce any immediately visible 
effect upon the current of events, but their action 
unquestionably contributed to the general feeling 
of unrest and dissatisfaction that was then grow- 
ing up throughout the country. 



It was at this time also that the Yedo Court 
began to be divided against itself. There was a 
party of the Shogun (lyeharu, 1760-1786), a 
party of his favourite mistress, a party of the 
chief minister, a party of the heir apparent, and 
a party of the Mito family. To trace the lines 
of this division would be wearisome and useless. 
Sufficient to say that it was chiefly caused by a 
departure from the fixed order of succession in 
choosing an heir, the title of the ** Three Fami- 
lies " being set aside in favour of lyenari, a scion 
of the Hitotsubashi house. 

The ethics of the nation were at their worst 
in the days (1760-1786) of the Shogun lyeharu. 
Bribery was practised openly and shamelessly. 
Pauperism prevailed extensively in the chief 
cities, with its usual accompaniments of theft 
and incendiarism. Conflagrations became so 
common in Yedo that the citizens learned to re- 
gard them as one of the inevitable ills of daily 
life. In 1760 one-half of the city was reduced 
to ashes, and eleven years later a fire, burning 
for ten days, swept over five districts, killed four 
hundred persons, and laid waste a space ten miles 
long and two and a half in width. Several of 
the great nobles began to assume a defiant mien 
towards the Shogun. Men of learning were re- 
garded as interesting curiosities rather than as 
public benefactors. Society abandoned itself to 
excesses of all kinds. The queen of the day was 
the professional danseuse, and even among men 



skill in dancing and singing constituted the 
highest title to consideration. The plutocrat 
took precedence of the bushi. The officials that 
conducted the administration were corrupt and 
incompetent. For a moment this evil state of 
affairs was checked by the shock of natural ca- 
lamities. In the autumn of 1771 a hurricane 
swept over the country and destroyed a great 
part of the crops. In the spring of 1773 a 
pestilence killed ninety thousand people in four 
months. In 1782 a volcanic eruption (Mount 
Asama) buried a number of villages under mud 
and rocks. In 1783 a famine reduced the 
people to such extremities that they subsisted on 
dogs, cats, rats, herbs, roots, and bark. Matsu- 
daira Sadanobu, chief minister of the Shogun 
lyenari (1787-1838), called to power by these 
catastrophes, introduced drastic reforms, and 
might have effected a lasting improvement had 
he not wrongly gauged the tendency of the time. 
He failed to detect the forces working to pro- 
duce a reaction against the despotic sway which 
Chinese literature and Chinese philosophy had 
exercised almost uninterruptedly since the begin- 
ning of the Tokugawa epoch, and he devoted all 
his energies to an attempt to bring the nation 
into one ethical fold with Chu, the great Confu- 
cian commentator, for pastor. Any procedure, 
however arbitrary, seemed justifiable in the eyes 
of this statesman, provided that it conduced to his 
great aim of unifying national thought. He 



made it an imprisonable offence to investigate or 
teach any philosophy save that of the Sung ex- 
pounder of the Analects. Of course such an 
attempt to coerce men's intellects strengthened 
the moral revolt it was intended to check. The 
study of Japanese literature and Japanese history 
acquired fresh popularity. It has been already 
shown that this study owed its inception to the 
great Mitsukuni (Komon), feudal chief of Mito, 
under whose patronage a hundred-volume history, 
Dai-Nihon-shiy was compiled in the second half 
of the seventeenth century, A still profounder 
scholar, Motoori Norinaga, wore the mantle of 
Mitsukuni in the second half of the eighteenth 
century, and threw all his intellectual strength 
into the cause of a revival of whatever was purely 
Japanese, whether of language, of literature, of 
religion, or of tradition. Strange to say, the Sho- 
gun and his chief minister, although they sought 
so earnestly to popularise Confucianism as ex- 
pounded by Chu, ultimately tolerated the Japan- 
ese revival and even encouraged it, opening an 
academy for its advocates, and themselves taking 
a share in the investigations. They did not see 
that Japanese history was a story of perpetual 
usurpations on the part of rival clans, of encroach- 
ments upon the prerogatives of the sovereign and 
thefts of his authority, of the culture and dignity 
of the Court nobles despite their many faults, 
and of the neglected right of the Emperor to ex- 
ercise administrative power. An incident of the 



time furnished an object lesson in these princi- 
ples. The Emperor (Kokaku), desiring to give a 
certain title to his father, sent an envoy to Yedo 
to consult the Shogun. But it happened just 
then that the Shogun contemplated giving a simi- 
lar title to his own father. The proposal from 
the Kyoto Court was regarded as a deliberate 
scheme, and when the Emperor's envoys pressed 
it, they were actually punished by the Shdgun. 
Voices were now raised loudly denouncing the 
arbitrariness of the Tokugawa. They did not 
as yet become audible in influential quarters, but 
they nevertheless indicated the growth of a sen- 
timent fatal to the permanence of the Yedo 

It will be easily understood that although the 
revival of pure Japanese literature, of the Japan- 
ese religious cult and of the ethics connected 
with it, was in effect a rebellion against the des- 
potic sway of Chinese authority, the latter had 
in fact prepared the route to the goal indicated 
by the former. For whereas Confucianism taught 
that a ruler's title is valid only so long as his ad- 
ministration conduces to the welfare of the ruled, 
Shinto showed the people whither they should 
turn for relief from the incompetent and injurious 
sway of the Shoguns. Thus, though the two 
stood nominally opposed to each other, both 
had the same political tendency. 

At this epoch a new factor of disturbance 
appeared upon the scene : the Russians began 



to push southward from Kamchatka. There 
was nothing Hke deHberate aggression on a large 
scale, but only a gradual movement with occa- 
sional incidents of violence and trespass. So 
insignificant indeed, were these evidences of 
foreign enterprise, that sixteen years passed before 
the officials in Yedo obtained intelligence of 
what was going on in the north, and they then 
persuaded themselves that rumour had greatly 
distorted the facts. But in truth this resurrection 
of the problem of foreign intercourse opened the 
last chapter of the history of Japanese feudalism. 


Chapter V 


DURING all these years, from the early 
part of the seventeenth century until 
the last quarter of the eighteenth, 
vague conceptions of Occidental civili- 
sation and Occidental sciences had been filtrating 
into the country through the narrow door of 
Dutch trade in Nagasaki. The study of medi- 
cine chiefly contributed to indicate how wide 
the interval between the civilisations of the 
West and the East had grown since the beginning 
of Japan's policy of isolation. To prosecute 
such a study with any measure of success despite 
the difficulties presenting themselves, showed 
significant earnestness in the pursuit of knowl- 
edge. Everything had to be done in secret, 
since discovery signified the severest punishment. 
In truth, the indomitable energy of a few obscure 
students who procured a rare volume from the 
Deshima factory at almost incredible cost, and, 
without the aid of an instructor or a dictionary, 
taught themselves the language in which it was 
written, is a story of reality stranger than fiction. 
But the movement had nothing of a national 



character ; it did not extend beyond a small 
coterie of students, and the people in general 
remained ignorant of such researches. Presently 
Ono Riushihei, a member of this band of stu- 
dents, compiled a remarkable book. It con- 
tained a singularly accurate account of the 
manners and customs as well as of the military 
and naval organisations of Occidental States ; 
it warned Japan that the Russians would one 
day show themselves a formidable enemy on her 
northern border, and it urged the advisability 
of building a fleet and constructing coast- 
defences. The Yedo authorities denounced the 
work as misleading and injurious, seized all the 
copies, burned them, and placed the author in 
confinement. Seldom have events so completely 
and rapidly vindicated a prediction. Riushihei's 
punishment had not lasted quite five months 
when a Russian ship arrived at Yezo, pretexting 
a desire to restore to their homes some castaway 
Japanese sailors. Riushihei was at once released 
from confinement, and the wisdom of his views 
received general recognition. 

It must indeed be recorded, in justice to the 
perspicacity of the Shogun's ministers, that from 
the very beginning of the series of disturbing 
episodes which thenceforth occurred in connec- 
tion with foreign policy, they partially appreci- 
ated the hopelessness of offering armed opposi- 
tion to the coming of Western ships. Bound, 
on the one hand, to respect the traditions of 



international seclusion handed down to them 
through ten generations, they understood, on the 
other, that the measures adopted to enforce 
these traditions had crippled the nation's powers 
of resistance. Instead of following the high- 
handed example of lyeyasu and lyemitsu, they 
confined themselves to politely informing the 
Russians that a return visit from them was not 
desired. The Russians paid no attention to this 
rebuff. They repeated their visits six times in 
the course of the next twenty years, at one 
moment assuming a friendly mien, at another 
raiding Japan's northern islands or landing to 
effect surveys ; to-day kidnapping Japanese sub- 
jects, to-morrow restoring them with apologies. 
It is certain that had not the Napoleonic wars 
withdrawn Russia's attention from the Far 
East, she would either have forced foreign inter- 
course upon the Japanese before the close of the 
nineteenth century's second decade, or annexed 
all the Empire's northern islands. Japan was 
helpless. A semblance of armed preparation 
was made in 1807 by bestowing the Shoguns 
daughter on Date, feudal chief of Sendai, ap- 
pointing him to guard the shores of Hokkaido, 
and building forts to defend the approaches to 
Yedo Bay. But it is doubtful whether any real 
value was attached to these measures. Ulti- 
mately the trivial nature of Russian aggression 
inspired the Japanese with some confidence, and 
when by and by English vessels also began to 




appear in the northern seas, the Shoguris offi- 
cials took heart of grace, and issued orders that 
any foreign ship coming within range of Japanese 
guns should be cannonaded. 

It has been shown that from the middle of 
the eighteenth century the literary studies of the 
nation began to create a strong current of thought 
opposed to the system of dual government repre- 
sented by the two courts of Yedo and Kyoto. 
Possibly had nothing occurred to furnish signal 
proof of the system's practical defects, it might 
have long survived this theoretical disapproval. 
But the crisis caused by the advent of foreign 
ships and by the forceful renewal of foreign inter- 
course afforded a convincing proof of the Sho- 
gunate's incapacity to protect the State's supposed 
interests and to enforce the traditional policy 
of isolation which the nation had learned to 
consider absolutely essential to the Empire's 

When confronted by this crisis, the Yedo ad- 
ministration had fallen into a state of great finan- 
cial embarrassment. In spite of a forced loan 
of a million ryd levied from the citizens of Osaka, 
the Shoguris ministers were obliged, in 1818, to 
revert to the pernicious expedients of debasing 
the currency, and arbitrarily readjusting the ratio 
between gold and silver, which they now fixed 
at six to one. A sudden and sharp appreciation 
of commodities, the disappearance of gold from 
circulation, and general discontent ensued. The 

VOL. III. 1 I 


treasuries of the feudal chiefs also became de- 
pleted, the purchasing power of all incomes 
having been greatly reduced by the financial 
abuses of the Shogunate. Many of the nobles 
were heavily indebted to wealthy merchants, and 
few retained any sentiment of loyalty towards the 
Yedo Court. Japan was now visited by a calam- 
ity to which she is particularly liable, scarcity of 
bread-stuff owing to failure of the rice-crop, which 
is of as much importance to her as wheat and 
beef combined are to England. A three years' 
famine afflicted the nation, from 1833 to 1835. 
Starving folk began to wander about committing 
outrages, and one of the Shoguns trusted vassals, a 
man ^ of the highest repute, headed an abortive 
rebellion. Then, in 1838, the Yedo Castle was 
destroyed by fire, and a special levy, in the form 
of a heavy income tax, had to be resorted to. 

Amid all these troubles the Dutch at Naga- 
saki sent information to Yedo that British vessels 
might be expected at any moment, carrying some 
shipwrecked Japanese subjects. The Dutch, it 
may be observed, lost no opportunity of arousing 
Japanese suspicion against the English. Com- 
mercial rivalry was not more scrupulous in those 
days than it is at present. It happened that a 
man of exceptional ability and resolution, Mizuno 
Tadakuni, was then at the head of the Yedo ad- 
ministration. He issued an order that, for what- 
ever purpose foreign ships came, they must be 

^ See Appendix, note 26. 



driven back. But there were at that time several 
Japanese students of foreign affairs in Yedo. 
Some had been pupils of the intrepid traveller, 
Siebold, and some had acquired their information 
from books only. These men appreciated the 
true character of foreign civilisation, and were at 
once too patriotic and too courageous to subserve 
their conviction to considerations of personal 
safety. The necessity of combining the frag- 
ments of knowledge that each had been able to 
collect independently induced them to form a 
society, and in spite of the odium attaching to 
their action, and in spite of being called the 
** barbarian association " by the public, they pur- 
sued their researches unceasingly. When news 
reached them that the Shoguns chief minister 
had issued the order spoken of above, they de- 
cided that duty to their country demanded an 
open protest against such a mistaken and danger- 
ous policy. Two of the leading members com- 
piled a volume, setting forth, in plain terms, the 
truth, as they conceived it, especially with regard 
to England. They presented copies of the book 
to prominent officials of the Administration, 
The immediate consequence of this heroic act — 
for it merits no lesser epithet — was that the 
members of the society were seized and thrown 
into prison. But the brochure did not fail of all 
effect. It strengthened the chief minister's con- 
viction that unless the nation made a supreme 
effort to organise its defences, no hope of resist- 



ing foreign aggression could be entertained ; it 
probably helped to inspire the radical reforms, 
both economical and military, that were then 
undertaken, and it may have had much to do 
with the minister's subsequent revocation of his 
anti-foreign order. For the order was actually 
revoked within a few years of its issue ; not, 
indeed, because the Shogun's Government had 
become reconciled to foreign intercourse, but 
because they recognised the advisability of avoid- 
ing war with such formidable enemies as the men 
from the Occident were now seen to be. 

It is not to be supposed that in this matter of 
renewing her relations with the outer world, 
Japan was required to make any sudden decision 
under stress of visible menace. She had ample 
notice of the course events were taking. 

A French ship, coming to the Riukiu Islands 
in 1846, pretexted the probable advent of the 
English as an argument to induce the islanders 
to place themselves under French protection. 
In the same year the King of Holland sent to 
the Yedo Court some scientific books and a map 
of the world, with a covering letter advising 
that the country should at once abandon its 
policy of isolation. It is related that this map 
of the world produced a profound impression in 
the Shogun's capital, but as the Japanese had 
become acquainted with the terrestrial globe in 
1 63 1, they must have already known something 
of their country's comparative insignificance. 



Again, in 1849, the King of Holland notified 
the Shogun that an American fleet might be 
expected in Japanese waters the following year, 
and that, unless Japan agreed to enter into friendly 
relations, war must follow. His Majesty enclosed 
in his despatch an approximate draft of the 
intended treaty, and a copy of a memorandum 
addressed by America to European nations, jus- 
tifying her contemplated action on the ground 
that it would inure to the advantage of Japan as 
well as to that of the Occident. 

The year 1853 saw this warning fulfilled. 
Commodore Perry entered Uraga Bay, near 
Yokosuka, He had four ships and five hundred 
and sixty men. In Yedo his force was supposed to 
be ten ships and five thousand men ; in Kyoto 
it became one hundred ships and one hundred 
thousand men. 

The event created as much astonishment and 
alarm as though no notice of its probability had 
ever been received. The Shogun s ministers 
issued orders that so soon as the foreign vessels 
entered Yedo Bay, the fire-bells should be rung 
in quick time, and every one, donning his fire 
uniform, should hasten to his post. The Impe- 
rial Court in Kyoto directed that at the seven 
principal shrines and at all the great temples 
special prayers should be offered for the safety of 
the nation and for the destruction of foreigners. 
Such measures vividly illustrated the helplessness 
of Japan to meet the crisis that now threatened. 



From the very outset the steps taken by the 
Shoguns administration were prophetic of its 
downfall, A council of feudal chiefs was sum- 
moned to consider the course that should be 
pursued. Never previously, since the establish- 
ment of the Tokugawa rule in Yedo, had the Sho- 
gun! s ministers submitted any question, executive or 
political, to the consideration of the feudatories. 
A more signal abrogation of autocratic power 
could not have been effected. The Shogun thereby 
virtually abdicated his position as the nation's 
administrative sovereign, and placed himself on 
a level with all the territorial nobles who had 
hitherto been required to render implicit obedi- 
ence to his orders. It becomes interesting to 
determine the motive and source of such a novel 
departure. Some writers have been disposed to 
treat it merely as an evidence of thoughtless 
perplexity. Others regard it as a pusillanimous 
endeavour to shift to the shoulders of the feuda- 
tories a responsibility which the Shogunate found 
unbearable. Both explanations may be partially 
true. It is possible that the Yedo Government 
did not perceive the full consequences of openly 
recognising the right of the feudatories to a voice 
in the management of State affairs. It is also 
possible that the Shogun s advisers, too well in- 
formed to contemplate serious resistance to 
foreign demands, too timid of public opinion to 
openly confess their conviction, hoped, by obtain- 
ing from the feudatories a declaration in favour 



of a pacific policy, to escape at once the disaster 
of war and the odium of violating a national con- 
viction. But whatever secondary value attaches 
to these conjectures, it appears certain that the 
suggestion to summon a conference of feudal 
nobles emanated from the students of Chinese 
philosophy. During the first century of Toku- 
gawa rule these men occupied an academical 
position. But in the year 1690, when the Shogun 
Tsunayoshi ruled, a school called the " hall of 
sages " [Set do) was established in Yedo, and 
scholars successful in its examinations became 
eligible for official appointments equally with 
proficients in military exercises. Many such 
literati occupied administrative posts at the time 
of the coming of the American ships, and 
although their influence had hitherto been insig- 
nificant, the peculiar nature of the crisis now 
gave unwonted weight to their views. From 
the writings of Confucius and Mencius they had 
learned to attach respect to popular opinion, and 
in obedience to their political creed, they coun- 
selled recourse to the advice of the feudal nobles. 
The Shogun s ministers, in accepting that counsel, 
probably reckoned on secretly swaying the nobles 
to declare openly for peace. But the nobles, by 
asserting their independence, showed that they 
understood their new position. A majority pro- 
nounced against foreign intercourse even at the 
cost of war ; a few advised temporary concessions 
pending the completion of preparations to expel 



the intruders, and a still smaller number recom- 
mended peaceful intercourse with the outer world. 
It may be stated at once that subsequent events 
threw great doubt on the sincerity of the advocates 
of war. Those that had spoken honestly spoke 
in ignorance, and fuller knowledge modified their 
views; those that had spoken with knowledge 
lacked the courage of their convictions, and for 
the sake of appearance counselled a course which 
they knew to be impracticable. 

As for the Shoguns ministers, their action 
reflected the perplexity and duplicity of the time. 
They issued an instruction so ambiguous that no 
one could undertake to interpret it accurately. 
It did not sanction foreign intercourse, but it did 
not order warlike operations to enforce isolation ; 
it directed that defensive measures should be vig- 
orously pushed, but it did not intimate that their 
completion would be the signal for driving away 
the aliens ; it hinted that the honour of the 
nation was involved in obeying the old tradi- 
tions, but it counselled an amicable and forbear- 
ing spirit. Very little perspicacity was needed 
to detect the weakness of rulers speaking with 
such an uncertain voice. 

Another self-effacing step taken by the Shogun 
was to address to the Court in Ky5to a formal 
report of the advent of the American ships. 
This, too, amounted to an open abrogation of 
the administrative autocracy which formed the 
basis of the Tokugawa system. lyeyasu had 



definitely excluded the Kyoto Court from the 
sphere of national affairs, and all his successors, 
with one exception, had governed in obedience 
to that principle. But now the S/wgun lyeyoshi 
seemed to place himself under the shadow of the 
Imperial Court at the very moment when his 
urgent duty, according to popular conception, 
was to interpose between the Throne and the 
danger menacing it from abroad. 

The consequences of this step were even more 
far-reaching than those that attended the Shogun- 
ate's recourse to a council of feudatories. For 
the renaissance of the literature and traditions of 
ancient Japan, inaugurated by Mito students in 
the second half of the seventeenth century, had 
been carried to its culminating point by a remark- 
able triad of scholars, Mabuchi, Motoori, and 
Hirata, who worked with singular assiduity and 
wrote voluminously throughout a great part of 
the eighteenth century down to the middle of the 
nineteenth,^ and the doctrines enunciated by this 
remarkable school of thinkers had now sunk deep 
into the hearts of a large section of the people. 
Belief in the divine origin of the Emperor had 
become a living faith instead of a moribund tra- 
dition, and many were beginning to regard the 
administration of the Shogun as a sacrilegious 
invasion of the Mikado's heaven-descended pre- 
rogatives. It is asserted that the Shogun lyeyoshi 
himself was more or less swayed by these theories, 

* See Appendix, note 27. 



and that, in addressing the Throne, he obeyed a 
genuine sentiment of loyalty. Other accounts 
attribute his action to the advice of his ministers, 
especially that of the Prince of Mito. Whatever 
the truth may be as to the motive of the step, it 
presented itself to the people in the light of an 
official recognition of the new Imperialism. The 
** pure Shinto creed " which had hitherto been 
only academical, now assumed a practically polit- 
ical character, and men's eyes turned to the 
Court in Kyoto as the real centre of national 

Another sentiment also was called into active 
existence at this crisis, the sentiment of patriotism. 
During many hundreds of years there had been 
no such thing as country in the moral vista of 
the educated Japanese. His loyalty did not look 
beyond the limits of fief or family. Even the 
Mongol invasion in the thirteenth century failed 
to strike a universal chord of patriotism : the 
brave soldiers that repelled the attack achieved 
local rather than national renown. But the inci- 
dents culminating in the expulsion of Christians 
and the closing of the country in the early part 
of the seventeenth century, and the inflexible 
enforcement of a policy of national isolation 
throughout the Tokugawa era, insensibly taught 
men to think of Japan as an entity, and their 
perception, greatly quickened by the Shinto re- 
vivalists' doctrine of the *' land of the gods," was 
now suddenly stirred into almost passionate activ- 



ity when the news went abroad that foreigners 
had come to establish, by force if necessary, an 
intercourse probably fatal to the country's inde- 
pendence. A logical accompaniment of this 
mood was the conviction that since the nation, 
as a whole, was threatened, the nation, as a whole, 
must resist ; and by the light of that conviction 
the inter-fief jealousies and the divided rule of 
the Emperor and the Sliogun represented obvious 
sources of weakness. Everything, therefore, 
pointed to the sovereign as the national rallying 
point, and since His Majesty's first act, on learn- 
ing of the arrival of foreign ships, had been to 
pray for heaven's guardianship of the sacred land, 
and for the destruction of the intruders, the na- 
tion found itself furnished with a rallying cry 
which soon reverberated from end to end of the 
country, Son rib jo-i (Revere the sovereign, expel 
the alien). 

This condition of public thought naturally re- 
quired some time for development, and as the 
sequence of events must be closely followed just 
at this stage, it will be wise to revert to their 
chronological order. 

The Americans did not insist on the imme- 
diate conclusion of a treaty. They agreed to 
wait a year. The Japanese, on their side, thought 
that the postponement would probably be per- 
manent. So many rumours of the advent of for- 
eigners had proved delusive in the past that 
the Americans' announcement of an intention to 



return scarcely seemed a serious menace. When, 
therefore, Commodore Perry did really reappear 
off Uraga in the spring of 1854, consternation 
fell upon the SKbgmi s ministers. They issued 
orders to the feudatories throughout the Empire 
to prepare for war, and they sent officials to 
Uraga to hold the intruders there. If only the 
Americans could be prevented from entering 
Yedo Bay, the situation might be saved. Com- 
modore Perry consented to a compromise : he 
did not push further than the harbour now over- 
looked by the Yokohama settlement, and there 
he anchored. Could he have obtained any knowl- 
edge of the perturbation produced in Yedo by 
his doings, he would probably have framed his 
demands on a much larger scale. But he did not 
know that every time the tide swung his vessels' 
prows northward, the news, carried to Yedo by 
flying messengers, created a general panic ; and 
that whenever the ships rode with their prows 
southward, the intelligence of their changed po- 
sition caused the capital to breathe again, so that 
for some days moods of despair and hope suc- 
ceeded each other in regular succession. Neither 
did he know that the Shogun's officials, or at any 
rate those to whom was entrusted the duty of 
dealing with the American envoy, never had any 
idea of serious resistance. Contenting himself, 
therefore, with a treaty guaranteeing intercourse 
on a limited scale, the American envoy sailed 



It is possible that if even then the Yedo Court 
had boldly avowed and justified its act, the nation 
w^ould have acquiesced, however unwillingly, for 
the anti-foreign cry had not yet acquired any 
volume, and no one was prepared to assume the 
responsibility of making a public protest. But 
the Yedo Court acted a disingenuous part. In- 
stead of revoking its warlike instructions and 
frankly disclosing the nature of the agreement 
just concluded, it published a deceptive account 
of the latter and virtually confirmed the former. 
It adopted, in short, the most effective method 
of bringing ultimate embarrassment upon itself, 
and of fomenting the nation's antipathy towards 
the strangers to whom a promise of friendly in- 
tercourse had just been given. 

For a time, however, this policy of pretence 
succeeded, especially as it was accompanied by 
genuine and striking measures of reform. Vig- 
orous preparations for coast defence were made. 
A military school was established in Yedo and a 
naval in Nagasaki. Many administrative abuses 
were abolished. The official door was thrown 
open to men of talent and competence, irrespec- 
tive of birth. The finances were reorganised in 
a manner at once courageous and intelligent. In 
short, the Shogunate, then under the direction 
of one of the ablest statesmen that ever directed 
its policy, Abe Masahiro, feudal chief of Ise, 
evinced a spirit of earnestness and resolution that 
won general praise. The anti-foreign voices be- 



came silent. For three years and a half no pres- 
age could have been discerned of the storm 
destined soon to burst over the country. It 
seemed indeed as though the Shoguris adminis- 
tration was about to enter upon a new era of 
stability, for Abe, with profound sagacity, suc- 
ceeded in winning the alliance of the Toku- 
gawa's hereditary enemy, the Satsuma chief, then 
the most powerful feudatory in Japan, by con- 
tracting a marriage between the latter's daughter 
and the Shogun, and further secured the loyal 
cooperation of the Prince of Mito, a man of ex- 
ceptional capacity and reputation. 

It is unnecessary to describe in detail how the 
first Consul-General of the United States in 
Japan, Mr. Townsend Harris, reached Shimoda 
in 1856; how he made his way to Yedo in 
1857, in spite of strenuous official opposition; 
how he had audience of the Shogun, and after- 
wards delivered in the house of the prime 
minister, Hotta, feudal chief of Bitchiu — the 
great Abe had died three months previously — 
a speech of six hours' duration, which brought 
a flood of light to the minds of his hearers, and 
won for the cause of foreign intercourse the 
permanent allegiance of a group of leading 
politicians ; and how, finally, by adroit diplo- 
macy in which the menace of a British fleet's 
probable arrival played a large part, he succeeded 
in concluding, in 1858, the first treaty that 
granted genuine commercial privileges to for- 



eigners. Full accounts of all these incidents 
have already been published. 

This treaty was the signal for an outburst 
of national indignation. The former conven- 
tions — the plural is used because Russia, 
Holland, and England had secured for themselves 
treaties similar to that concluded by Commodore 
Perry — had been of very limited scope : they 
merely opened three harbours of refuge to foreign 
vessels. It had been possible for the Shogun s 
ministers to represent them in the light of acts 
of charity, and in that sense they had been under- 
stood by a large section of the nation. But the 
treaty of 1858 provided for the coming of for- 
eign merchants, indicated places of residence for 
them, and definitely terminated Japan's tradi- 
tional isolation. There could be no mistake 
about its meaning. Hence the announcement 
of its terms evoked fierce protests from all 
quarters, and a powerful anti-foreign agitation 
was organised with the Prince of Mito at its 

Mito, ever since the days of its second feudal 
chief, the celebrated Komon, had been a nursery 
of anti-feudal politicians. At the time when 
the American ships cast anchor at Uraga, the 
fief was in the hands of Rekko, a man scarcely 
second to Komon in ability and of far more 
radical views. It is doubtful whether Rekko 
believed sincerely in the possibility of continued 
national seclusion. He certainly allowed his 



fief to be the centre of such a propaganda. But 
of himself those that knew him best allege that 
he was prepared to admit foreigners to the 
country, though he insisted on surrounding the 
concession with conditions dictated by Japan in 
obedience to her own interests, and that, in order 
to retain mastery of the situation in that degree, 
he advocated preparations for war, with the firm 
purpose of resorting to it if necessary. It is 
consistent with such a theory that he remained 
an active supporter of the Yedo Court in spite 
of the signature of the Perry convention, but 
that, when the Harris treaty gave away the situa- 
tion completely, and showed the Shoguris min- 
isters in the light of men who, while simulating 
a warlike mien in order to placate the nation, 
were really bent upon pacific concessions only, 
he became a determined opponent of the Sho- 
gunate, and, resigning his posts as superintendent 
of coast defence and director of military reforms, 
retired to Mito, whither the eyes of the nation 
followed him as the upholder of its traditions 
and its champion against foreign aggression. 

Within a brief time after these events, the 
people ranged themselves into three parties. 
The first was headed by the Shoguns chief 
minister and by the so-called ** Dutch students," 
who now occupied a high place in official 
favour. This party's platform was progress and 
liberalism. They advocated the opening of the 
country and the establishment of free commercial 



intercourse with foreigners, and they showed 
high moral courage in championing such views 
in spite of hearing themselves fiercely denounced 
as renegades and national enemies. The second 
party, though a unit as to the advisability of 
setting narrow limits to foreign intercourse, 
entertained divergent views on the subject of the 
procedure to be followed. One of its sections 
held that as an object lesson must be provided to 
teach the nation its own weakness compared with 
the overwhelming strength of Europe and 
America, and as, at the same time, even a war in 
which Japan suffered defeat would doubtless 
have the effect of modifying the arbitrariness of 
foreigners, the best plan was to fight at once. 
The other section advised temporary compliance 
with foreign demands, in order to gain time for 
developing force to drive out the alien altogether. 
Alike anti-foreign in their ultimate purpose, 
these two sections nevertheless became mutually 
distrustful and, in the end, implacably hostile. 
The third party did not reason at all, but simply 
declaimed against conceding anything whatever 
to aliens. 

All this sounds very bigoted and uncivilised, 
but when the circumstances under which foreign 
intercourse came to an end in the seventeenth 
century are recalled, and when it is remembered 
that during nearly two hundred and fifty years 
the people had harboured a firm conviction that 
to admit foreigners was to forfeit national inde- 

voL. III. — 12 lyy 


pendence, there is no difficulty in understanding 
the temper aroused by the news of the Harris 
treaty. Indeed, to any student of the literature 
that circulated among the Japanese immediately 
prior to the mission of Commodore Perry, the 
wonder is, not that great difficulties were expe- 
rienced in concluding a treaty, but that any sec- 
tion of the people could be induced to range 
themselves on the side of liberalism. The writ- 
ings of the time were saturated with anti- 
foreign sentiment. Authors revelled in such 
expressions as " imperial customs " [Kwofu), 
"imperial country" (Kwokoku), "divine dig- 
nity" [Shin-i), "land of the gods" [S/im-s/iu), 
and similar terms indicating fanatical pride in the 
Empire and its institutions. On the other hand, 
"hideous aliens" {shu-i), "barbarian bandits" 
{banzoku), "sea monsters" [kaikwai), and many 
similarly opprobrious epithets were habitually 
applied to foreigners, until men ceased to rank 
them among human beings ; association with 
them came to spell national ruin ; their sciences 
were counted black magic, and their religion 
was deemed a cloak for political intrigue. 

Fully cognisant of the difficulties arising out 
of this national mood, the Shoguns ministers 
summoned another meeting of feudatories and 
sought to win them to the cause of liberalism by 
arguments similar to those Mr. Townsend Harris 
had used in his great speech. But the feudatories 
were in no temper to listen to reason. Their 



unique idea was that the country had been be- 
trayed. Nothing remained, therefore, except to 
issue a formal decree that the Yedo Court had 
definitely abandoned the traditional policy of 
isolation. A few months previously the same 
Court, by means of a similar instrument, had 
represented the Perry convention in the light of 
an irksome compromise, had spoken of the 
Americans as persons of " arbitrary and lawless 
manners," and had invited the nation to strenu- 
ously undertake naval and military preparations 
with the implied purpose of reverting to the time- 
honoured state of seclusion. Now a decree of 
diametrically opposite import was issued. It may 
well be supposed that such evidences of variability 
did not strengthen the nation's respect for the 
Shogunate. The conservatives openly declared 
that the Yedo Government had harboured pacific 
intentions from the first, and that it had simu- 
lated a warlike mien merely to placate popular 

The Prince of Mito has been spoken of above as 
leader of the extreme conservatives. But a greater 
than the Prince of Mito stood at the head of 
the movement, — the Emperor himself. The 
Emperor, when the news of Perry's first coming 
reached Kyoto, ordered that the succour of the 
gods should be supplicated, just as it had been 
supplicated at the time of the Mongol invasion 
in the thirteenth century ; and when he heard of 
Perry's second coming, he issued an edict direct- 



ing that all temple bells not in actual use should 
be cast into cannon. There is no reason to assume 
that His Majesty was swayed in this matter by 
strong anti-foreign prejudices, or that he would 
have adopted such a course on his own initiative. 
Apart from the fact that the views of the Mika- 
dos in Kyoto had long ceased to be anything 
but a reflection of their immediate surroundings, 
it has to be noted that, on this occasion, the 
Emperor Komei shaped his procedure in accord- 
ance with indications furnished from Yedo. The 
S/iogun's Court had virtually denounced foreign 
intercourse ; the Shoguri s ministers had invited 
the nation to arm for the defence of its traditional 
convictions ; the Emperor's ministers and the 
Emperor himself merely followed Yedo's lead. 

But now Yedo had performed a complete 
volte-face. What was Kyoto to do ? Probably 
if the Imperial capital had listened to that epoch- 
making speech of Mr. Townsend Harris, had 
perused all the arguments and had weighed all 
the circumstances making for a treaty with 
America as a precedent to avert harsher demands 
on the part of other States, the Emperor's advis- 
ers might have followed the Shogun in welcoming 
foreigners, as they had previously followed him 
in repelling them. But Kyoto saw the change 
only and did not understand the causes. 

The anti-foreign and anti-feudal politicians 
were not slow to appreciate the opportunity thus 
afforded. They understood that their best chance 



of success consisted in widening the breach be- 
tween the two Courts, and they applied them- 
selves to achieve that end by urging the Emperor 
to veto the treaty. Intercourse between the feu- 
datories and the Imperial Court was forbidden 
by the laws of the Shogun. But the Shogun 
himself had departed from the strictest traditions 
of the Tokugawa administration when he referred 
the question of foreign intercourse to the feuda- 
tories and to the sovereign, and when he entered 
no protest against the Emperor's edict direct- 
ing the founding of cannon from temple bells, 
though such an edict constituted a plain inter- 
ference in administrative affairs. The feudal 
nobles might well conclude that the old restric- 
tions had been relaxed. At all events, they acted 
on that hypothesis ; notably the Prince of Mito, 
who sent emissaries to Kyoto with instructions 
to work strenuously for the repudiation of the 

Informed of these things, the SHbgurCs chief 
minister, Hotta, proceeded to Kyoto. He set 
out with the conviction that his representations 
would produce a complete change of opinion in 
the Imperial capital. But the whole of the Court 
nobility opposed him, and after much discussion 
the Emperor issued an order that the question 
should be submitted to the feudatories and that 
an heir to the Shogunate should be nominated at 

A significance not superficially apparent at- 



tached to the latter part of this edict. The 
Shogun lyesada was virtually a witling. He had 
been married, as already stated, to an adopted 
daughter of the feudal chief of Satsuma, but there 
was no issue of the marriage, nor had there ever 
been any possibility of issue. Two candidates 
for the heirship offered. They were Keiki, son 
of the Prince of Mito, a man of matured intellect 
and high capacities, and lyemochi, Prince of Kii, 
a lad of thirteen. Public opinion unanimously 
indicated the former as the more fitting, and his 
connection with the house of Mito was accepted 
as an assurance of anti-foreign bias. Hence, 
although the Imperial decree did not actually 
name him, its intention could not be mistaken. 
But public opinion erred in this instance. Keiki 
did not advocate national seclusion. Had the 
choice fallen on him, he would have con- 
tinued the policy of Hotta and the liberals, while 
at the same time seeking to soften the hostility 
of the Mito faction. Hotta, appreciating these 
things, sought to bring about the nomination ; 
but the Shogun s household, knowing that 
Reiki's appointment would be equivalent to their 
master's abrogation, cast about for means to pre- 
vent it, and found them in inducing the Slmgun 
to summon li, feudal chief of Kamon, to the 
highest post in the Yedo Court, that of Tairo 
(great elder). 

li was probably the ablest of the able men 
thrown to the surface by the seething current of 



events in this troubled epoch. It is unnecessary 
to depict his character ; his deeds are sufficiently 
eloquent. Without a moment's hesitation he re- 
verted to the autocratic principles of the Shoguns 
administration ; caused the young prince of Kii 
to be nominated heir, and concluded the Harris 
treaty, which had hitherto been awaiting signa- 
ture.^ A majority of the powerful feudatories 
now joined the opposition. The Prince of Mito 
protested in writing. He insisted that the sanc- 
tion of the Imperial Court must be sought before 
concluding the treaty ; that various restrictions 
should be imposed on foreign intercourse — 
among them being a drastic interdict against the 
building of Christian places of worship — and 
that if foreigners were unwilling to accept thesc^ 
conditions, they must be asked to defer the treaty 
for fifteen or twenty years. It is thus apparent 
that even the leader of the anti-foreign party, as 
the Prince of Mito subsequently became, con- 
curred with the leader of the liberals concerning 
the impossibility of rejecting foreign advances 
altogether. The difference was that one side 
wanted to impose conditions and obtain delay by 
seeking the sovereign's sanction ; the other 
wished to conclude the treaty forthwith so as to 
avoid national disaster. 

The events that ensued throw a vivid light on 
the nature of Japanese politics and the character 
of the men that had to deal with them. Death 

^ See Appendix, note 28. 


removed the semi-idiotic Shogun lyesada, and an 
unprecedented period elapsed before the coming 
of an Imperial mandate to his successor. The 
issue of such a mandate was in truth a mere 
matter of form. Four or five days should have 
sufficed for its preparation and transmission to 
Yedo. Yet it did not reach the latter city until 
the fifteenth day after the Imperial seal had been 
affixed to it. The delay is one of the unsolved 
mysteries of history, since the official responsible 
for it committed suicide without revealing any- 
thing. On the eve of the new SHogun s procla- 
mation, the heads of the Three Princely houses 
— Owari, Echizen, and Mito — repaired simul- 
taneously to the hall of audience and demanded 
an interview with the Tatro. li was advised not 
to meet them ; it seemed certain that he would 
incur deadly risk by doing so. He replied that 
personal danger was a small matter compared 
with shirking his duty. A stormy discussion 
ensued, lasting for several hours. At length the 
leaders of the opposition showed themselves will- 
ing to compromise ; they would agree to the 
treaty provided that Keiki were appointed Shogun. 
This is a landmark in the annals of the era. It 
indicates that domestic politics occupied a larger 
space than foreign in the eyes of the recusant 
nobles. The Tairo, however, would not yield a 
point. Not only was the young Shogun duly in- 
stalled on the following day, but the first step he 
took, by the advice of the Tairo, was to punish 



the leaders of the opposition, confining them to 
their mansions or forbidding their attendance at 
Court. The die was now irrevocably cast, and 
the radical section of the anti-foreign party 
thenceforth looked to the Prince of Mito as their 

While these events were happening behind the 
scenes, the Foreign Representatives entertained 
great doubts of the Yedo Government's good 
faith. They imagined that the abiding desire of 
the Shoguns ministers was either to avoid making 
treaties or to evade them when made. Such 
doubts, though not unnatural under the circum- 
stances of the time, are now known to have been 
without solid basis. In the written communica- 
tion addressed to the Throne by the Yedo states- 
men after the conclusion of the Harris treaty, 
there is plain evidence that they intended to 
observe their new obligations loyally. The only 
questionable point is a suggestion that after the 
strengthening of the army and the navy the 
problem of peace or war might be solved. " If 
peaceful relations be maintained until the time 
appointed for ratifying the treaty, the avaricious 
aliens will definitely see that there is not much 
wealth in the country, and thus, abandoning the 
idea of gain, they will approach us with friendly 
feelings only, and ultimately will pass under 
the influence of our Emperor's grace. We may 
even hope that they will be induced to make 
grateful offerings to the Emperor, and then it 



will no longer be a question of trade but of 
tribute. Meanwhile we will require them to 
observe our laws strictly, so that we can govern 
them at will." There is here an audible note of 
sinister intention. But experience had shown 
that to set forth the real strength of foreign 
countries was only to rouse the indignation of 
the ignorant and haughty nobles in Kyoto. 
From correspondence between the Tairo li and 
his friends in the Imperial capital, it appears that 
he was advised to simulate the policy of bringing 
foreigners under Japanese influence, and of 
employing for military purposes the wealth that 
would accrue from trade with them. In short, 
the despatches composed by him for the perusal 
of the Imperial Court must be read, not as indi- 
cating the genuine policy of the Yedo officials, 
but as presenting it in such a light as might 
placate the conservative element in Kyoto. This 
deception was carried so far that an envoy sub- 
sequently sent to Kyoto from Yedo depicted the 
Shogun as actually hostile to foreigners, but 
disposed to tolerate them momentarily from 
considerations of expediency. The Foreign 
Representatives could scarcely have been expected 
to arrive at a correct interpretation of the situa- 
tion through this maze of simulations and dis- 
simulations, or to credit the Shogun with intentions 
which his own ministers seemed anxious to dis- 
avow on his behalf. In Europe, at the foreign 

1 See Appendix, note 29. 



legations in Yedo and among the foreigners then 
beginning to come to the country under the 
treaties, an uneasy conviction prevailed that 
Japan waited only for an opportunity to repudi- 
ate her engagements. 

Meanwhile, although the Prince of Mito was 
confined to his residence in Yedo, his partisans 
in Kyoto ^ worked strenuously to procure the 
intervention of the Imperial Court on his behalf. 
It was a repetition of the often practised device, 
making a catspaw of the sovereign in the interests 
of a subject, and it partially succeeded. The 
Emperor was persuaded to issue a rescript which, 
though couched in guarded terms, conveyed 
a reprimand to the Shogun for concluding a treaty 
without previously consulting the feudatories (as 
directed in a former rescript), and which further 
suggested that the punitory measures adopted 
towards the Princes of Mito and Owari might 
lead to domestic disturbances. 

A supreme trial of strength now took place 
between the Shogun and his enemies. Envoys 
were despatched from Yedo to offer explanations 
to the Imperial Court, and the leaders of the 
opposition mustered their forces to thwart the 
design. For nearly four months the issue re- 
mained in abeyance, and the envoys finally had 
to pretend that the Shogun, at heart averse to 
foreign intercourse, only awaited an opportun- 
ity to terminate it. In consideration of such 

^ See Appendix, note 30. 



assurances the Emperor issued the following 
rescript : — 

Amity and commerce with foreigners brought dis- 
grace on the country in the past. Our ancestors were 
grieved by the fact. Should such relations be resumed 
in our reign, we shall be wanting in our duty towards 
our predecessors. Our will has been repeatedly made 
known on the subject. Manabe and Sakai have now 
come to Kyoto to explain the facts, and it has been 
made evident that the purpose of the Shogun and his 
officials is one with that of the Emperor. It is desir- 
able that Kyoto and Yedo should join their strength 
and plan the welfare of the Empire. We comprehend 
the difficulties of the situation, and sanction a post- 
ponement of the expulsion of foreigners. 

The two Courts seemed to be now publicly 
pledged to an anti-foreign policy. Yet the issue 
of the rescript was regarded as a victory for Yedo. 
The Tairo himself knew, of course, that his oppor- 
tunism had placed him in a position which might at 
any moment become impossible. He had sought 
to obtain the unconditional consent of the Em- 
peror to the treaties, but finding that to insist 
would involve a final rupture between the sov- 
ereign and the Shogun, he had accepted a com- 
promise which not only represented him in a false 
light from the foreigners' point of view, but 
must also eventuate in serious embarrassment, 
unless preparations could be made to secure fresh 
concessions from Kyoto before the real attitude 
of the Shogunate towards foreigners and the 



attitude simulated by it to pacify the conserva- 
tives became flagrantly divergent. To such prep- 
arations, therefore, the Tairb and his coadjutors 
now devoted all their strength. 

During the course of the negotiations in 
Kyoto, the Yedo envoys had discovered clear 
evidence of a formidable plot to overthrow the 
Shogunate. The Taird was not the man to 
palter with such an affair. Wholesale arrests 
were made, and the conspirators, cited before a 
court whose bench had been carefully purged 
of all half-hearted elements, were mercilessly 
sentenced. Capital punishment and banishment 
were the lot of the most active among the 
subordinates ; the leaders fared according to the 
canons of the time. The Prince of Mito was 
condemned to perpetual confinement in his fief ; 
the Prince of Owari, to permanent retirement ; 
Keiki, ex-candidate for the succession to the 
Shogunate, forfeited his office and was directed 
to live in seclusion ; the heads of three branch 
houses of Mito, several officials of the Imperial 
Court, in short, a number of notable personages, 
were overtaken by loss and disgrace. 

This event produced a profound sensation 
throughout the Empire. It is tolerably certain 
that much injustice was done. Political views 
found very vague expression at that time. A 
man's opinions were generally inferred from the 
company he kept, and there is reason to think 
that ties of personal friendship were sometimes 



mistaken by the Ansei^ judges for bonds of 
political conspiracy. They were directed to 
convict, and they convicted. The Yedo Court, 
under li's guidance, had concluded that the 
elements engaged in misleading the Throne 
must be ruthlessly crushed, and from the point 
of view of public expediency, they doubtless 
acted wisely. But the impression produced upon 
the public at large was that many zealous patriots 
had been done to death or disgraced, and it will 
readily be conceived that these things did not 
detract from the unpopularity of foreign inter- 

Some decisive measure had now to be adopted 
with regard to the Imperial edict mentioned 
above ; that is to say, the edict issued at the 
instance of the anti-foreign party when the news 
reached Kyoto that the sovereign's indication 
had been disregarded in the matter of the acces- 
sion to the Shogunate and that a treaty had been 
concluded with foreign Powers. The edict had 
been practically superseded, as shown above, by a 
later rescript, declaring union between Yedo and 
Kyoto and temporarily sanctioning the treaty. 
Moreover, it had not been publicly promulgated. 
The original document, conveyed secretly to the 
Mito mansion in the Koishikawa suburb of 
Yedo,^ had been carried thence to Mito, and 
placed in the ancestral tomb of the family, 
where a strong body of safnurai guarded it night 

^ See Appendix, note 31. ' See Appendix, note 32. 



and day. But there was evidence that the Mito 
men considered this edict in the Hght of a 
guarantee against concessions to foreigners, who, 
according to their creed, were the country's 
enemies, and that they thought the sovereign 
had confided it to their care because he doubted 
whether the Yedo Court could be trusted to 
promulgate it. Indeed, the question of pro- 
mulgation caused much discussion in Yedo. 
The Tairb himself, unfalteringly consistent in 
his policy of restoring the S/wguns administrative 
autocracy, maintained that the conveyance of 
such a document direct to a feudatory was a 
flagrant contravention of the powers vested in 
the Shogun, and that the Yedo officials were 
competent to suppress the edict. Ultimately the 
Regent in Kyoto, a faithful supporter of the 
Taird, sought and obtained the sovereign's au- 
thority to revoke the document. But the Mito 
men refused to surrender it. They deemed that 
to temporise with foreigners was to imperil the 
national safety. They saw in commerce with 
the outer world nothing but an agent for causing 
the appreciation of commodities. They believed 
that, as one of the three great Tokugawa clans, 
an obligation devolved on them to save the 
Shogunate from its own blunders, and they pro- 
fessed to fear that if they surrendered the edict, 
the sovereign would ultimately be driven to seek 
the cooperation of some other clan. With 
regard to the possibility of driving out foreigners, 



they did not find the question conclusive. Their 
duty was to devote all their strength to the 
attempt and trust the rest to the gods. A long 
and closely reasoned document compiled by a 
leader of the Mito samurai set forth these con- 
siderations in language that could not fail to 
appeal to the loyalty and patriotism of his clans- 
men. It ended by declaring that a man's life 
is never in such danger as when he fears to lose 
it. The records show that nearly a score of 
samurai sealed their belief in these ideas by com- 
mitting suicide. 

At this stage the Mito chief himself issued to 
his vassals an instruction to surrender the edict. 
He had never been a believer in absolute inter- 
national isolation, and he now severed his con- 
nection with its advocates. Thereupon the 
rebellious samurai dispersed quietly, with the 
exception of about a hundred desperate men who 
declared that they would die rather than yield. 
The Yedo Government gave orders for the seiz- 
ure of these rebels, but before the mandate could 
be obeyed, the Taird, li Kamon, fell under the 
swords of a party of assassins who had detached 
themselves from the rebels and made their way 
to Yedo for the purpose of killing him. He 
had been warned of his danger and urged to 
increase the strength of his escort. But he re- 
plied that no force of guards could control the 
hand of fate or baffle the ingenuity of resolute 
assassins, and, further, that the number of the 



Taird's escort was fixed by a rule which a man 
in such a high position must respect. 

This happened on the 3rd of March, i860. 
It proved to be the first of a series of similar acts. 
Occasionally foreigners were the victims, but 
generally Japanese leaders of progress suffered. 
There is no difficulty in understanding why the 
samurai had recourse to his sword under the cir- 
cumstances of the time. The incidents of foreign 
intercourse in the sixteenth and seventeenth cen- 
turies bequeathed to subsequent generations a 
rooted belief in the necessity of national isolation. 
They perceived no other way of preserving the 
country's integrity. Every Japanese was born 
with that conviction. He would have seemed to 
himself a traitor had he acquiesced in the signing 
of treaties of amity and commerce, and, above all, 
in the readmission of Christians to contact with 
the people. By the light of modern philosophy 
such conservatism looks irrational and even in- 
human. But the Japanese regarded it by the 
light of experience and hereditary conviction. 
They had no innate prejudice against foreign 
intercourse ; that is plain from the story related 
in a previous chapter. Originally they received 
the alien hospitably and accepted the products 
of his civilisation with intelligent appreciation. 
But he had shown himself, as they firmly believed, 
an aggressive enemy, whose tradal methods im- 
poverished their country, and whose religion 
served as a cloak for sinister designs against the 

VOL. III. 13 I ^ J 


Empire's independence. It was the duty of 
every patriot to avert the recurrence of the old 
peril, against which the country's greatest states- 
men and captains, the Taiko, lyeyasu and lyemitsu, 
had warned their own and succeeding genera- 
tions. Whatever credit these illustrious men 
possessed in the mind of the nation, whatever 
reverence their memory commanded, was insep- 
arably associated with the policy of seclusion 
which they had adopted in the apparent interests 
of their country and in despite of their own in- 
clinations. The impartial historian has no choice 
but to admit that had the Japanese tamely suf- 
fered the resumption of foreign intercourse in 
the nineteenth century, they would have done 
violence to convictions which no patriot may 
ignore, and shown themselves lacking in one of 
the essential ingredients of national spirit. When 
foreigners were cut down under circumstances 
that left them no chance of resistance, their 
friends and fellow countrymen naturally de- 
nounced such acts as craven and savage. But it 
is necessary to remember that the perpetrators 
were men who had sacrificed their own worldly 
prospects^ and were ready to sacrifice their lives 
also in the cause they represented ; that they 
believed themselves entitled to exercise all the 
license permitted to a soldier in war ; and that 
their object, in general, was not to destroy indi- 
vidual foreigners so much as to create a situation 

^ See Appendix, note 33. 


inconsistent with friendly intercourse and fatal 
to the maintenance of the Shoguns administra- 
tion. A favourite saying of Ando, who suc- 
ceeded the great Taird, li, was: "If the ronin^ 
thirst so ardently for blood, let them take my 
life, or the ShogunSy but let them never raise 
their hand against a foreigner, for they would 
thus endanger the national safety." It is possible 
that these words, profoundly wise as they were, 
furnished a cue to the ronin. Whatever the 
Shoguns chief minister denounced as eminently 
objectionable, that commended itself most to 
these desperate patriots. No clearer exposition 
of the motives animating them can be found than 
that furnished by documents from the hands of 
the men who slew the Taird li. These last 
testaments^ teach that their writers did not dis- 
tinguish between the peaceful coming of foreign 
traders under a treaty of amity and an invasion 
of enemies from abroad. They recalled the fact 
that their country's wisest statesmen, after full 
experience of foreign intercourse in the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries, had seen no alternative 
but to prohibit it completely. They were not 
without some knowledge of Western history. 
They knew that the great States of Europe con- 
stantly grew greater by swallowing smaller States, 
and they feared that the fate of the latter might 
overtake Japan. They believed that steadfast faith 
in the Shinto deities, supplemented by the stout arms 

^ See Appendix, note 34. * See Appendix, note 35. 


of the samurai^ was the country's best bulwark, and 
they deemed that to permit the preaching of alien 
creeds was to forfeit the protection of the gods, 
who had always guarded Japan. They were not 
bigoted conservatives : they admitted that a na- 
tion's policy must change with the times ; but 
they failed to understand the changes which the 
Shogun's policy had undergone — at one moment 
ordering the feudatories to prepare for the forcible 
exclusion of foreigners ; the next, admitting 
Americans even to the precincts of Yedo Castle 
and treating them with deference and courtesy 
in defiance of the Emperor's expressed wishes. 
They accused the Yedo Government of bribing 
high officials in Kyoto, — a charge which could 
not be denied. They spoke of the Emperor's 
having passed seven days in prayer at the shrine 
of Iwashimizu, and of His Majesty's having 
finally decided, under the inspiration of the gods, 
that no new port should be opened, no foreigner 
allowed to reside in the country, and no Christian 
place of worship erected ; and they declared 
their conviction that posterity would execrate 
them as cowards if they did not strike for their 
country's cause at this crisis of her destiny. It is 
beyond question that thousands of Japanese samu- 
rai entertained similar views ; and when it is 
remembered that the ethical creed of the time 
sanctioned assassination as a political weapon,^ 
that no stigma attached to the assassin, and that 

^ See Appendix, note 36. 



if he escaped the punishment of the law adminis- 
tered by the official protectors of the man he had 
killed, he had nothing to apprehend except the 
vengeance of the latter's relatives, there remains 
no room for surprise that the course of the pas- 
sionate controversies of those days was often 
marked with blood. Rather, indeed, are there 
grounds for surprise that the public peace suffered 
so little disturbance under such conditions. 


Chapter VI 


THUS far this record has spoken mainly 
of the aspect under which aliens pre- 
sented themselves to Japan by the light 
of tradition. It is now necessary to 
inquire whether, on the renewal of intercourse in 
the nineteenth century, the alien's demeanour 
and doings were of such a nature as to erase 
or confirm the traditional impressions of the 

Looking at the facts to-day, after the lapse of 
forty years has furnished a true perspective, the 
historian is struck by the distrust that pervaded 
the whole attitude of foreigners towards the 
Japanese at the outset of renewed intercourse. 
The worst possible construction was generally put 
by the former upon the latter's acts, whether 
official or private. Even the Foreign Represen- 
tatives, when recording the adoption of some 
liberal course by the Yedo Government, were 
wont to qualify their approval by a hope that no 
trickery or abuse was intended. That they had 
strong reason for some want of confidence is un- 
questionable. The Yedo Government, while 



truly willing to implement its treaty engage- 
ments, was compelled by the exigencies of 
domestic policy to simulate an attitude of un- 
willingness ; and many of the samurai^ honestly 
solicitous for the national safety, endeavoured to 
restore the traditional isolation by throwing 
obstacles in the path of smooth intercourse, and 
by acts of violence against the persons and prop- 
erty of foreigners. Such conditions were not 
calculated to inspire trustfulness. But it must be 
admitted that there was little inclination to be 
trustful. The Foreign Representatives and for- 
eigners in general seem to have approached the 
discussion of Japanese problems with all the 
Occidental's habitual suspicion of everything Ori- 
ental. It will readily be conceived, for example, 
that after the assassination of the Tatro, li, no 
little concern was felt by the Yedo Government. 
They perceived a strong probability that the des- 
perate men who had wrought the deed, or their 
equally desperate comrades, might turn their 
swords against foreigners. The danger of such a 
contingency was made real by intelligence that six 
hundred ronin had banded themselves together, 
and, led by the Mito samurai, were about to at- 
tack the foreign settlement at Kanagawa^ and the 
Legations in Yedo. All possible precautions 
were at once taken by the Japanese officials. 
New barriers were erected, additional guards 
were posted, and warnings were conveyed to 

^ See Appendix, note 37. 



the Foreign Representatives, accompanied with 
a request that, during the acute stages of the 
crisis, they would move abroad as httle as pos- 
sible. From the Japanese point of view the 
peril was very vivid and very disquieting. But 
the Foreign Ministers convinced themselves that 
a deliberate piece of chicanery was being prac- 
tised at their expense ; that statecraft rather than 
truth had dictated the representations made to 
them by the Japanese authorities, and that the 
alarm of the latter was simulated for the purpose 
of finding a pretext to curtail the liberty enjoyed 
by foreigners. Therefore the suggestion that 
the inmates of the Legations should show them- 
selves as little as possible in the streets of the 
capital, where at any moment a desperado might 
cut them down, was treated almost as an insult. 
Then the Japanese authorities saw no recourse 
except to attach an armed escort to the person 
of every foreigner when he moved abroad. 
Even this precaution, which certainly was not 
adopted out of mere caprice or with any sinister 
design, excited fresh suspicions. The Repre- 
sentative of one of the Great Powers, in report- 
ing the event to his Government, said that the 
Japanese had taken the opportunity to graft 
upon the establishment of spies, watchmen, 
and police officers at the several Legations, a 
mounted escort to accompany the members 
whenever they moved out. 

It has been shown above — to cite another 



example of this distrust — that the question of 
choosing a successor to the Shogun lyesada caused 
a poHtical crisis which resulted in the removal 
of some of the chief officials of the Yedo Court 
and the accession of li Kamon-no-Kami to 
power. It has further been shown that li was 
a man of singular enlightenment and liberality, 
and that to his fearless action were due the 
conclusion of the first commercial treaty and 
the definite inauguration of foreign intercourse. 
Yet, three years later, the Foreign Represen- 
tatives, in a memorandum explaining the state 
of affairs in Japan, saw in the crisis which called 
li to office nothing but ** the disgrace and 
removal of the men who had been engaged 
in the original negotiation of the treaty," and 
the transfer of the administrative power to the 
anti-foreign party. 

On January i6th, 1861, Mr. Heusken, Act- 
ing Secretary and Interpreter of the United 
States Legation in Yedo, was set upon and 
assassinated by a band of ronin in a suburb of 
the city. Ando was then charged with the 
conduct of foreign affairs on behalf of the Yedo 
Government — the same Ando whose habitual 
caution was that, if the ronin wanted to shed 
blood, they should kill him, or kill even the 
Shbgun^ rather than raise their hand against 
foreigners. Ando's statement to Mr. Townsend 
Harris, the United States Representative, after 
the murder of Heusken was : " It is a source 



of profound regret to me that Heusken fell 
under the hand of lawless men, for a long work 
still lay before him to promote peace between 
Japanese and foreigners by making the latter 
acquainted with the truth about the former. 
I fear that his death means not only failure 
on our part to protect foreigners, but also the 
loss of one who was a connecting link between 
Japan and America. It is not his misfortune 
alone : it is Japan's misfortune. My sorrow 
is not less than yours." The sincerity of this 
speech was beyond all doubt. Heusken's death 
pained the chief officials of the Shogun's Govern- 
ment as much as it shocked the Foreign Repre- 
sentatives. Yet the latter subsequently recorded 
their suspicion that the assassination had been 
contrived by the Shoguns Government as part 
of a system of terrorism and intimidation planned 
with the object of driving foreigners out of 

As a page of history read now without any of 
the emotions or prejudices that distorted its text 
at the time, this record assumes an almost comi- 
cal character. The foreigner, having forced his 
companionship upon the unwilling Japanese, 
found it an insult that they should seek to protect 
him against the perilous consequences of his own 
obtrusiveness ; the Yedo statesmen, grappling 
desperately with difficulties which seemed likely 
to produce a political revolution involving their 

^ See Appendix, note 38. 



own destruction, saw themselves suspected of ex- 
aggerating and even manufacturing those difficul- 
ties by the very men that had caused the whole 
trouble ; the Shoguns ministers, knowing that the 
purpose of their enemies, the exclusionists, was to 
embroil them with foreigners by attacks upon 
the persons and properties of the latter, and 
having adopted all possible precautions to avert 
such deeds of violence, found themselves credited, 
not with any solicitude for the safety of the 
Foreign Representatives' lives, but with instituting, 
under plea of zeal for that safety, " a system of 
isolation, restriction, and petty tracasserie, in order 
to make the residence of diplomatic agents as 
disagreeable and hateful as possible ; " ^ the Jap- 
anese administrators, earnestly striving to bring 
the nation to a sense of the necessity and advan- 
tages of foreign intercourse, saw themselves 
accused of having for their chief object the re- 
striction of that intercourse, and declared to be 
harbouring an intention, should less violent 
means fail, " of bringing about a simulated popu- 
lar movement in which foreign lives would be 
sacrificed ; " ^ the progressive politicians, whose 
propaganda of inter-state commerce encountered 
a serious obstacle in the general discontent caused 
by the appreciation of prices that followed the 
inauguration of that commerce, found it declared 
by foreign diplomatists that the discontent was 
artificial in its source, and that it had been 

1 See Appendix, note 39, 



" brought about by the direct action of the rul- 
ing classes with a view to make out their case " 
against international trade ; the Shbguns coun- 
cillors, who naturally shrunk from exposing to 
the gaze of strangers all the intricate, scarcely 
explicable, and in many respects humiliating 
complications of their domestic policy, were 
charged with sparing no efforts to keep from 
the Foreign Representatives all sources of exact 
or reliable information," and with " misleading 
and deceiving them as to the real state of things ; " 
and, finally, Japan, seething with elements of 
unrest that defied the analysis even of her own 
statesmen, was denounced as a country " where it 
was difficult to obtain even a modicum of truth " 
because her condition could not be readily made 
clear to strangers ignorant of her history and out 
of all sympathy with her perplexities. 

The reader is invited to consider this retro- 
spect, not as reflecting injuriously on the proce- 
dure of the foreign diplomatic agents, but merely 
as illustrating the aspect their moods and methods 
presented to the Japanese. It must not be for- 
gotten that the enigma of Japanese affairs seemed 
quite insolvable to foreigners in the early days ; 
that the mysteries surrounding them were well 
calculated to excite suspicion ; and that the mur- 
derous outrages of which they were the victims 
could not fail to provoke passionate resentment. 

What has thus far been written applies chiefly 

^ See Appendix, note 40. 



to foreign officials, diplomatic and consular, serv- 
ing in Japan. It is necessary now to consider 
the impression conveyed to the Japanese by the 
incidents of foreign trade and by the behaviour 
of those engaged in it. 

From the very outset a troublesome complica- 
tion occurred in the field of commerce. In 
order to conduct tradal operations in a country 
u^ith an altogether special monetary system such 
as Japan had, some arrangements were neces- 
sary with regard to tokens of exchange. The 
plan pursued by the Dutch at the Deshima 
factory in Nagasaki from the seventeenth century 
had been based on the weight of precious metal 
contained in Japanese coins, independently of 
their denominations, and without any attempt 
to bring about the circulation of foreign mone- 
tary tokens. The same system, so far as con- 
cerned weight, was adopted in 1858, but was 
supplemented by a provision that foreign coins 
should have currency in Japan. Foreign coins, 
the treaty said, must pass current for corre- 
sponding weights in Japanese coins of the same 
kind, — gold for gold, silver for silver, — and, 
during a period of one year after the opening 
of the ports, the Yedo Government was pledged 
to furnish to foreigners Japanese coins in ex- 
change for foreign, equal weights being given 
and no discount taken for recoinage. This 
arrangement altogether ignored the ratio between 
the precious metals in the Japanese coinage 



system, and as the ratio stood at five to one, 
whereas the ratio then in Europe was fifteen to 
one, it resulted that the foreigner acquired the 
right of purchasing gold with silver in Japan 
at one-third of the former metal's silver price in 
the Occident. To state the facts more explicitly : 
the treaty enabled foreigners to buy with one 
hundred and twenty-five dollar-cents — or six 
shillings worth of silver — four Japanese silver 
tokens (called bu), which, in the Japanese coinage 
system, were exchangeable for a gold coin 
(called koban) intrinsically worth eighteen shil- 
lings. Of course the treaty could not have 
been framed with the deliberate intention of 
securing to foreigners such an unjust advantage. 
As a result, partly of long isolation and chiefly 
of currency debasements made to replenish the 
Treasury, the precious metals were not connected 
in Japan by the relation governing their inter- 
changeable values in Europe, and foreign states- 
men, when negotiating commercial treaties with 
her, cannot be supposed to have had any idea 
of holding her to that particular outcome of 
her isolation and inexperience. Indeed, the 
treaty did not create any explicit right of the 
kind, for although it provided that foreign 
coins should be exchangeable against Japanese, 
weight for weight, it contained no provision as 
to the denominations of Japanese coins or the 
ratio of the precious metals in the Japanese 
monetary system. The Japanese Government, 



then, seeing the country threatened with speedy 
exodus of all its gold, adopted an obvious remedy. 
It issued a new silver coin of the same denomina- 
tion as the old but weighing three times as 
much. In short, it exercised a right which 
belongs to every independent nation, the right 
of so modifying its currency, when suddenly 
brought into circulation with foreign coins, 
as to preserve a due ratio between gold and 
silver, and thus prevent the former's being 
drained out of the country at one-third of its 
intrinsic value. Nevertheless this equitable view 
of the case did not commend itself to the men 
who looked to profit by the old conditions. 
They raised a vehement protest against what 
they called " a gross violation of treaty right," 
and ** a deliberate attempt on the part of the 
Japanese authorities to raise the prices of all 
native produce two hundred per cent against 
the foreign purchaser." There is documentary 
evidence that the Foreign Representatives appre- 
ciated the difficulties of Japan's position. None 
the less they held her to the unfair version of 
her agreement. She had to revert to coins 
of the old standard, and though she bowed to 
the necessity, the result of this complication was 
an abiding sense of injustice on her side, and 
an impression on that of the foreign resident 
that she had dishonestly sought to evade her 

The trade, then, did not recommend itself to 



the Japanese. Nor was the case of the trader 
much better. Testimony upon this point is 
furnished by a despatch of the British Repre- 
sentative, written to his Government at the close 
of 1859 : — 

Looking at the indiscreet conduct, to use the mild- 
est term, of many, if not all the foreign residents, the 
innumerable and almost daily recurring causes of dis- 
pute and irritation between the Japanese officials of all 
grades and the foreign traders, both as to the nature 
of the trade they enter into, and the mode in which 
they conduct it, open in many instances to grave 
objection, I cannot wonder at the existence of much 
ill-feeling. And when to those sources of irritation 
and animosity among the official classes, are added 
the irregularities, the violence, and the disorders, with 
the continued scenes of drunkenness, incidental to sea- 
ports where sailors from men-of-war and merchant 
ships are allowed to come on shore, sometimes in 
large numbers, I confess, so far from sharing in any 
sweeping conclusions to the prejudice of the Japanese, 
I think the rarity of retaliative acts of violence on their 
part is a striking testimony in their favour. . . . Our 
own people and the foreigners generally take care that 
there shall be no lack of grounds of distrust and irri- 
tation. Utterly reckless of the future ; intent only 
on profidng if possible by the present moment to the 
utmost; regardless of treaties or future consequences, 
they are wholly engaged just now in shipping off all 
the gold currency of Japan. . . . Any cooperadon 
with the diplomadc agents of their respecdve countries 
in their efforts to lay the foundations of permanent, 
prosperous, and mutually beneficial commerce between 
Japan and Western nations is out of the question. 


On the contrary, it is the merchants who, no doubt, 
create the most serious difficulties. It may be all very 
natural and what was to have been anticipated, but 
it is not the less embarrassing. And in estimating 
the difficulties to be overcome in any attempt to im- 
prove the aspect of affairs, if the ill-disguised enmity 
of the governing classes and the indisposition of the 
Executive Government to give practical effect to the 
treaties be classed among the first and principal of 
these, the unscrupulous character and dealings of 
foreigners who frequent the ports for the purposes 
of trade are only second, and scarcely inferior in 
importance, from the sinister character of the influence 
they exercise. 

Of course the foreign merchant found many 
causes of legitimate dissatisfaction. Prominent 
among them was official interference in business 
matters. From the very earliest times the 
country's foreign commerce had been subject 
to close and often vexatious supervision by offi- 
cials. The trade with Korea had been con- 
trolled by one great family ; the trade with 
China by another, and the trade with the Dutch 
factory in Nagasaki by governors whose inter- 
ference tended only to hamper its growth. 
Even a statesman of such general breadth of 
view as the Tairo, li Kamon-no-Kami, enter- 
tained a rooted conviction that all goods im- 
ported from abroad should pass through official 
hands on their way to Japanese consumers. A 
tendency to act upon that conviction caused 
vexatious meddling with the course of com- 

VOL. III. — 14 20Q 


merce, elicited frequent complaints from foreign- 
ers, and helped to confirm their rooted suspicion 
that the Government sought to place every 
possible obstacle in their way, with the ulti- 
mate object of inducing them to turn their 
backs upon Japan, as the first English colonists 
had turned their backs on it early in the seven- 
teenth century. In short, all the circumstances 
of Japan's renewed intercourse with foreign 
nations tended to accentuate the traditional 
conservatism of one side and the racial prejudice 
of the other. 

The death of the Prince of Mito, which took 
place in the autumn of i860, gave another 
blow to the already frail fabric of the Shoguns 
Government, for although this remarkable noble- 
man had acted a part inimical to the Yedo 
Court, his influence upon the turbulent samurai 
had been wholesome. He had succeeded in 
restraining them from acts of violence, espe- 
cially against the persons of foreigners, and when 
his powerful hand was withdrawn, the situation 
became more uncontrollable, and the lives and 
properties of foreigners began to be exposed 
to frequent perils. A brief gleam of sunshine 
fell upon the Shogun's cause when he received 
the Emperor's sister in marriage in 1861. But 
in order to effect this union of the two Courts, 
the Yedo statesmen had fresh recourse to their 
dangerous policy of duplicity and temporising ; 
they pledged themselves to comply with the 



wishes of the Kyoto conservatives by expelling 
foreigners from Japan within ten years. The 
embarrassments resulting from such a promise 
were more than sufficient to counterbalance any 
advantage that might have accrued from the 
reconciliation of the two Courts, and a further 
element of unrest was created by a widely 
entertained suspicion that the marriage repre- 
sented the beginning of a plot to dethrone the 
Emperor. In truth, the situation was rapidly 
assuming a character that defied the feeble adjust- 
ments and compromises of the SBogun s minis- 
ters. Kydto became the centre of disaffection. 
Thither flocked not only the genuinely anti- 
foreign agitators — the " barbarian expelling 
party" [joi-to), as they were called, — but also 
the leaders of a much more formidable move- 
ment, which, having for its prime object the 
overthrow of the Shogunate, saw in the anti- 
foreign commotion an instrument capable of 
being utilised to that end. It would be an 
error to conclude that the promoters of the 
2.nt\-Shdgun agitation were actuated solely by 
an intelligent perception of the evils of the 
dual system of government. Many of them 
assuredly detected its nationally weakening ef- 
fects, their appreciation of that point having 
been quickened ' by a sense of the country's 
helplessness to resist the advent of foreigners. 
But the ruling motives with a large number 
were restless desire of change and hostility to 



the Yedo Court. The continuous monopoly 
of administrative power during nearly three 
centuries by a small section of the nation had 
naturally educated the former feeling ; and as 
for the latter, it was entertained partly by men 
disgusted with the feeble, vacillating methods 
of the Shogunate in recent times, and partly 
by men who had been driven from office or 
otherwise punished in connection with the vicis- 
situdes of the era and with the Yedo Court's 
frequent changes of policy. On the whole, 
the enemies of the Shogunate were much more 
numerous and influential than the enemies of 
foreign intercourse, though both united in the 
"barbarian expelling" clamour, — these from 
sentiment, those from expediency. 

Murderous attacks upon foreigners now be- 
came frequent ; a party of samurai proceeded to 
Yokohama and threatened with death any Jap- 
anese merchant doing business with aliens, and 
a doctrine was propounded in Kyoto that the 
Shogun's title — Sei-i^ or " barbarian expelling " 
— pointed plainly to the expulsion of foreigners, 
and convicted him of failure of duty in admit- 
ting them to any part of Japan. It need scarcely 
be said that the title had no such significance. 
Devised originally with reference to the subju- 
gation of the uncivilised aborigines of Japan, it 
had never been applied to foreigners, and could 
not possibly have been applied to them, seeing 
that its first bestowal had long antedated the oc- 



currence of foreign complications. So crushed, 
however, was the spirit of the Yedo officials that in- 
stead of stoutly repudiating this extravagant inter- 
pretation of their Prince's title, they advised him 
to apologise for his failure to discharge the duty 
it indicated ; and they carried their placating 
system to the length of removing from the gov- 
erning body any ministers disapproved by the 
Kyoto Court. 

Throughout all their temporising simulations 
of anti-foreign purpose, the S/iogun's advisers 
placed their trust in time. They believed that 
before the necessity arose to give practical effect 
to their pretended policy, some method of evasion 
would present itself. But the Kyoto conserva- 
tives resolved to defeat that scheme of procedure. 
They induced the Emperor to issue an edict in 
which, after alluding to the " insufferable and 
contumelious behaviour of foreigners, to the loss 
of prestige and honour constantly menacing the 
country," and to the sovereign's " profound so- 
licitude," His Majesty openly announced the 
Shoguns promise to make full preparations for 
expelling foreigners within ten years, and de- 
clared that, in order to secure the unity required 
for achieving that purpose, an Imperial Princess 
had been given to the Shbgun in marriage. This 
edict was in effect a commission warranting every 
Japanese subject to organise an anti-foreign cam- 
paign. It publicly committed the Yedo Court 
to a policy which the latter had neither power 



to carry out nor any real intention of attempting 
to carry out. 

The two most powerful fiefs of Japan at this 
epoch were Satsuma and Choshiu. Satsuma, ow- 
ing to its remote position at the extreme south 
of the Japanese Empire, had never been brought 
within the effective sphere of the Yedo Court's 
administrative control. Choshiu, though less re- 
mote, was somewhat similarly circumstanced, and 
both had strong hereditary reasons for hostility 
to the Tokugawa Shogunate, These two clans 
were permeated with a spirit of unrest and dis- 
affection. There were differences, however. In 
Choshiu the anti-foreign feeling dominated the 
anti-Tokugawa, and the whole clan, lord and 
vassal alike, were convinced that loyalty to the 
Throne could not be reconciled with a liberal 
attitude towards foreign intercourse. In Satsuma 
the prevailing sentiment was anti-Tokugawa, the 
" barbarian-expulsion " cry being regarded as a 
collateral issue only. But as yet the Satsuma 
samurai had not openly associated themselves 
with either the anti-foreign or the anti-Toku- 
gawa movement, nor had they given any evidence 
of the ambition that undoubtedly swayed them, 
the ambition of occupying a prominent place in 
a newly organised national polity. On the con- 
trary, their chief, Shimazu Samuro, and his prin- 
cipal advisers maintained a neutral attitude toward 
the question of foreign intercourse, and were dis- 
posed to befriend the Shogunate, though the bulk 



of the clansmen would have gladly seen the ad- 
ministrative power wrested from the hands of the 
Yedo Court. 

In Kyoto a corresponding difference of opinion 
began to declare itself. The clamour and turbu- 
lence of the anti-foreign party produced a reac- 
tion, which strengthened the hands of the men 
by whom the marriage between the Shogun and 
the Emperor's sister had been promoted. Two 
factions, therefore, gradually assumed distinct 
shape : the extremists, led by Princes Arisugawa 
and Sanjo, who advocated immediate expulsion 
of foreigners and overthrow of the Shogunate ; 
the moderates, led by Princes Shishi-o, Konoye, 
and Iwakura, who urged less drastic measures 
with regard to foreigners and favoured the main- 
tenance of the Shogun s administration. To the 
first of these factions the Choshiu men naturally 
attached themselves ; to the second the Satsuma 
leaders. It had been generally supposed that the 
Satsuma chief would place himself at the head of 
the extremists. But his accession to the ranks 
of the moderates gave the ascendency at once to 
the latter. They utilised it to contrive that an 
envoy should be sent to Yedo with an Imperial 
rescript indicating three courses of which the 
Shogun was invited to choose one ; namely, first, 
that the Shogun himself should repair to Kyoto, 
and there hold a conference with the principal 
feudatories as to the best method of securing 
national tranquillity ; secondly, that the five prin- 



cipal feudatories who possessed littoral fiefs should 
be charged with the responsibility of coast de- 
fence, as had been done in the time of the Taiko ; 
and thirdly, that Prince Keiki and the feudal 
chief of Echizen should be appointed to high 
office in the Yedo administration. 

The Yedo Court was thus confronted by 
the most serious crisis that had yet menaced its 
autocracy. Not only were the feudatories openly 
violating the fundamental law of the Tokugawa, 
— the law which strictly vetoed all intercourse 
between them and the Imperial Court, — but, 
further, the SKogun was required to accept 
Kyoto's dictation in important matters of admin- 
istration. To obey the Imperial mandate would 
be practical surrender of governing power ; to 
disobey it would put a deadly weapon into the 
hands of the extremists. Reason suggested 
immediate surrender of the executive functions 
to the sovereign, on the ground that their effi- 
cient discharge under a system of divided author- 
ity was impossible, and it is not improbable that 
a courageous course of that kind would have 
rehabilitated the Shogunate, for the Kyoto Court 
could not have ventured to accept the responsi- 
bility thus suddenly thrust upon it. 

But the Shoguns advisers failed to grasp the 
significance of the crisis. No policy suggested 
itself to them except one of craven complaisance. 
They signified their intention of complying with 
the first and third of the Emperor's conditions, 



and they carried submissiveness to the length of 
punishing many of their ablest officials and 
stanchest partisans on the ground that the 
serenity of the Imperial mind had been disturbed 
by their procedure. Historians indicate the year 
1867 as the date of the fall of the Shogunate, 
because the administrative power was then finally 
restored to the Emperor. But it may be asserted 
with greater accuracy that the Shogunate fell 
in the year 1862, when the Yedo Court made 
the radical surrender here indicated. Nor was 
that the only mistake. The Shogun's ministers, 
underestimating the value of the Satsuma chief's 
friendship, paid no attention to his advice, nor 
took any care to strengthen his good disposition 
by courteous treatment. He recommended that 
the Shbgun should decline to proceed to Kyoto, 
and should reject all proposals pointing to the 
expulsion of foreigners ; but the Yedo Court 
neither heeded his counsel nor showed towards 
him the same consideration that they had dis- 
played to the Choshiu chief, with whom his 
relations were notoriously strained. 

It was thus with feelings considerably estranged 
that the Satsuma chief set out on his return 
journey to Kyoto. On the way an incident 
happened which was destined to have far-reach- 
ing consequence. A party of British subjects, 
three gentlemen and a lady, persisted in an 
attempt to ride through the Satsuma chief's 
cortege, ignorant that the custom of the country 



prescribed death as the penalty for such an act. 
Samurai of the body-guard drew their swords, 
killed one of the Englishmen (Mr. Richardson), 
and wounded the two others, the lady alone 
escaping unhurt,^ Probably no incident of that 
troublous era excited more indignation at the 
time or was more discussed subsequently. But 
while a custom so inhuman as that obeyed by 
the Satsuma samurai merits execration, the fact 
must not be forgotten that to any Japanese 
behaving as these English people behaved, the 
same fate would have been meted out in an even 
more summary manner. For the rest, the out- 
rage differed essentially from those of which 
foreigners had previously been victims, inasmuch 
as it was in no sense inspired by the " barbarian 
expelling " sentiment. Nevertheless, the imme- 
diate consequence was that since Satsuma refused 
to surrender the implicated samurai, and since 
the Shoguns arm was not long enough to reach 
this powerful feudatory, the British Government 
sent a squadron to bombard his capital, Kago- 
shima. The remote and most important con- 
sequence was that the belligerent operations of 
the British ships effectually convinced the Sat- 
suma samurai of the hopelessness of resisting 
foreign intercourse by force, and converted them 
into advocates of liberal progress towards which 
their previous attitude had been at best neutral. 
Meanwhile the Yedo Court was steadily pur- 

^ See Appendix, note 41. 



suing its suicidal policy. Under the influence 
of the new advisers whom, in compliance with 
its pledge to Kyoto, it had summoned to preside 
at its councils, measures were taken that could 
serve only to weaken its authority. Many of 
the time-honoured forms and ceremonies which 
contributed to lend dignity to official procedure 
and held a high place in popular esteem for the 
sake of their spectacular effect, were abolished, 
or curtailed, on grounds of economy, and for 
the same reason the rule was greatly relaxed 
which required the feudatories to live in Yedo 
every second year and to leave their families 
there in alternate years. This law had been one 
of the strongest buttresses of the Shogun's power. 
It was abrogated precisely at the moment when 
the feudatories were disposed to abuse every 
access of liberty. 

Nor did the almost abject submissiveness of 
the Yedo statesmen have the effect of appeasing 
their enemies. On the contrary, the extremists 
in Kyoto were so emboldened by these evidences 
of weakness that, without waiting for the Shogun 
to fulfil his promise of proceeding to Kyoto, 
they obtained from the Emperor a new edict 
requiring the Yedo Court to announce to all the 
feudatories the definite adoption of the *' alien- 
expelling " policy, and further directing that a 
date for the practical inception of that policy be 
fixed and communicated to the Throne. A few 
months previously it had been commanded that 



the Shogun should come to Kyoto to discuss the 
question of the nation's attitude towards foreign- 
ers ; now he was directed to accept an undiscussed 
policy, proclaim it, and give a promise as to the 
time for putting it into execution. 

Even to be thus flouted did not provoke the 
Yedo statesmen to adopt a manly and dignified 
course. Instead of protesting against the second 
edict and declining to receive it, they duly ac- 
knowledged it, and promised that its contents 
should be debated when the Shogun reached 

In the early spring of 1863 the Sffogun set out 
for the Imperial city. As his cortege passed 
along the seashore near Kanagawa, he could see 
a strong squadron of British war-vessels assem- 
bled in Yokohama harbour. Being a mere boy, 
he probably gave himself no concern about the 
purpose of these vessels' presence, nor was he told 
that they were a demonstration to obtain from 
his own Government redress for the assassination 
committed by the Satsuma samurai, or that he 
himself would have travelled by sea had not his 
ministers apprehended the seizure of his person 
by the British ships. Fate could scarcely have 
been more ironical than she was when she con- 
trived that the Shogun should be cited to Kyoto 
to answer for not driving out intruders by whom 
his own capital was openly menaced and his own 
movements were restricted. 

This journey to Kyoto was not undertaken in 



accordance with any definite policy. Even the 
course to be pursued on arrival there had not 
been mapped out. The Shoguns ministers con- 
soled themselves with vague hopes : they trusted 
to the chapter of accidents. Very different was 
the conduct of the extremists. By methods little 
short of intimidation, they extorted from Prince 
Keiki, the Shogun's guardian, who was then in 
Kyoto, a promise that immediately on the Shogun's 
return to Yedo, measures to terminate foreign 
intercourse should be commenced. They even 
required a pledge as to the number of days to be 
spent by the Shogun in Kyoto and on his journey 
back to Yedo. These engagements confronted 
the Shogun when he reached the Imperial capital. 
From the position of an autocrat, he had fallen 
to that of a mere subordinate. Instead of issuing 
orders, it had become his duty to receive and 
obey them. For the moment the extremists, 
under the leadership of Mori, chief of Choshiu, 
had command of the situation. Though headed 
by such men as Princes Konoye (the Regent), 
Iwakura, and Chigusa, and the feudal chiefs of 
Echizen, Aizu, and Tosa, the moderates could not 
make head against the tide in the absence of 
Shimazu of Satsuma, whom the Tokaido assassi- 
nation (described above) had compelled to return 
to his fief. Slights and even insults were con- 
spicuous in the treatment accorded to the Shogun 
at the Imperial Court. ^ From Yedo, at the same 

^ See Appendix, note 42. 



time, couriers arrived almost daily, urging that 
unless the Shogun returned at once to settle the 
complication with the British, war could not be 
avoided. The extremists welcomed the prospect. 
Nothing could have suited them better than that 
a British fleet should demolish the last vestiges of 
the Yedo administration. They have just been 
seen stipulating that the Shogun should return to 
his capital within a fixed number of days for the 
purpose of expelling foreigners. But now that 
there was a prospect of his destruction being 
furthered by holding him in Kyoto, they held 
him there. An Imperial decree was published 
directing that if the " English barbarians " wanted 
a conference, they should be invited to repair to 
Osaka harbour, there to receive a point-blank re- 
fusal ; that the Shogun should remain in Kyoto to 
assume the direction of defensive operations, and 
that he should accompany the Emperor to the 
shrine of the God of War, where a " barbarian- 
quelling sword" would be handed to him. 

Under such circumstances, the Shogun had re- 
course to the last refuge of the helpless : he fell 
sick ; and Yedo, being thus left to its own re- 
sources, chose the only practicable route, paid 
the indemnity demanded for the Richardson 
murder, and left the British to exact from Sat- 
suma whatever further redress they deemed ne- 
cessary. This the British did so effectually, in 
July (1863), that all idea of measuring strength 
with the Occident disappeared completely from 



the minds of the Satsuma samurai, and their chief, 
Shimazu, already imbued with moderate views, 
now hnally adopted the resolution of oppos- 
ing the anti-foreign extremists with his entire 

But in the mean while several important events 
had occurred. 

Among the various edicts obtained from the 
sovereign by the extremists, there was one 
which fixed the iith of May, 1863, as the 
date for practically inaugurating the anti-foreign 
policy. Copies of this edict were distributed 
among the feudatories, without the intervention 
of the Shogun, a course flagrantly opposed to 
administrative precedents. The Choshiu chief 
alone rendered immediate obedience. In fact 
his zeal outran his orders, for without awaiting 
the appointed day, he opened fire on foreign 
vessels passing through the strait of Shimo-no- 
seki, which his batteries commanded. Ships 
flying the flags of the United States, of France, 
and of Holland having been thus treated, vigor- 
ous remonstrances were addressed to the Yedo 
Government by the representatives of those three 

Meanwhile, the Shogun s ministers in Yedo, 
observing that their master was detained in Kyoto 
against his will, and that, unless a bold stroke 
were struck, his authority must be permanently 
impaired, sent two battalions of picked samurai 
by sea to Osaka, and marched them to the im- 



mediate vicinity of Kyoto. Such a display of 
wellnigh reckless resolution on the part of states- 
men who had hitherto shown themselves sub- 
missive almost to pusillanimity, astounded the 
public. Had the troops been allowed to enter 
the city, the extremists could not have made any 
effective resistance. But the Shoguns officials in 
Kyoto persuaded the samurai to retire. The op- 
portunity was lost, and nothing resulted from this 
bold move except the Shoguns speedy return to 

The extremists now had full mastery of the 
situation in Kyoto. It seemed that nothing 
could check them. Yet at this moment of 
apparent supremacy, their cause received a blow 
from which it never recovered. They had the 
audacity to forge an Imperial edict, declaring 
the Emperor's firm resolve to drive out the 
barbarians, and announcing that His Majesty 
would make a pilgrimage to the great shrines 
to pray for success. They doubtless imagined 
that their influence at Court would enable them 
to secure the Emperor's post-facto endorsement 
of this edict. But they were mistaken. At the 
instance of the moderates, an order was issued 
that Mori of Choshiu, leader of the extremists, 
should withdraw from the capital with all his 
vassals and with the nobles who had supported 
his views. 

The only credible explanation of this marked 
change of attitude in Kyoto was that the bom- 



bardment of Kagoshima by a British squadron 
had furnished a conclusive proof of Japan's 
helplessness to stand in arms against foreigners. 
It is true that the Court did not openly disavow 
its anti-foreign policy ; but it never again at- 
tempted to enforce it. Shimazu of Satsuma was 
summoned to Kyoto, and at his instance the 
Shogun repaired thither again, receiving now a 
gracious welcome and finding an opportunity 
which might have been utilised to put an end 
for ever to anti-foreign agitation and to restore 
the administrative authority of Yedo. His 
advisers, however, seemed in those days to be 
entirely without capacity to take a wise step. 
They saw no course except to continue their 
simulated arrangements for terminating foreign 
intercourse, though public opinion had evidently 
begun to change towards that problem. 

Two events now occurred which finally 
deprived the anti-foreign movement of all mis- 
chievous power. The Choshiu samurai, seeking 
to recover their influence by force, made a raid 
against Kyoto, and were not driven back until a 
large section of the city had been destroyed by 
fire. Their alleged object was to present a peti- 
tion to the Throne ; but their real and well- 
understood purpose was to destroy the leaders of 
the moderates. This attempt and its signal 
failure not only involved the national disgrace 
of the Choshiu men, but also discredited the 
cause they espoused. The Emperor had previ- 

VOL. Ill, I 5 



ously been regarded as the leader of the anti- 
foreign policy, but its most vehement advocates 
now began to be classed as rebels. Shortly 
afterwards, the three Powers whose merchant- 
men had been fired on by the Shimo-no-seki 
batteries, together with England, sent a joint 
squadron which demolished Choshiu's forts, 
destroyed his ships, and without any apparent 
effort scattered his fighting men. This " Shimo- 
no-seki expedition," the theme of endless discus- 
sion ^ in later times, had for direct result a 
national conviction that to resist foreigners by 
force was quite hopeless ; and for indirect, an 
universal inference that the Shogunate instead of 
wielding the power of the country, constituted a 
fatal obstacle to national unity. Of all the fac- 
tors that operated to draw Japan from her seclu- 
sion and to overthrow feudalism, the most 
powerful were the shedding of Richardson's blood 
at Namamugi on the Tokaido, and the resulting 
" Kagoshima expedition," the shelling of foreign 
vessels by Choshiu's forts at Shimo-no-seki, and 
the abortive attempt of the Choshiu samurai to 
recover their influence in Kyoto, by force. The 
year 1863 saw the "barbarian expelling" agita- 
tion deprived of the Emperor's sanction ; the 
two principal clans, Satsuma and Choshiu, con- 
vinced of their country's impotence to defy the 
Occident ; the nation almost fully roused to a 
sense of the disintegrating and weakening effects 

^ See Appendix, note 43. 



of the feudal system ; and the traditional antipa- 
thy to foreigners beginning to be exchanged tor 
a desire to study their civilisation and to adopt 
its best features. 

As for the Shogunate, evil fortune continued to 
attend all its doings. It began to be a house 
divided against itself. Its Yedo officials con- 
ceived a strong distrust of their Kyoto colleagues, 
and even of the Satsuma chief, Shimazu Samuro, 
whose influence had hitherto been loyally exerted 
in the Shoguns cause. The consequences of this 
discord were speedily apparent. When the 
Choshiu batteries began to fire upon foreign 
vessels navigating the Shimo-no-seki Strait, a 
commissioner was sent from Yedo to remonstrate 
against such lawless action. The Choshiu folk 
replied that they were obeying the sovereign's 
orders, which did not concern the Shogun, and 
they capped their contumacy by killing the com- 
missioner. A military expedition then became 
inevitable. Thirty-six feudatories furnished con- 
tingents, and an overwhelming force moved 
against the rebellious noble. The Choshiu chief 
made no resistance. He took steps to prove his 
contrition, and then appealed to the clemency of 
the invading generals, who justified his confidence 
by leaving him in undisturbed possession of his 
fief and withdrawing their forces unconditionally. 
Intelligence of these doings provoked much in- 
dignation among the Yedo statesmen. They 
concluded that such leniency must have been 



inspired by a treacherous purpose on the part of 
the Kyoto officials who had endorsed it, and on 
the part of the Satsuma chief whose troops formed 
a large part of the expeditionary force. Prep- 
arations were therefore made for a second attack 
upon Choshiu, the Shogun himself leading his 
army. It was confidently believed that the 
rebellious clan would submit without a struggle, 
and that the expedition would be nothing more 
than a pleasant picnic. Possibly that forecast 
would have proved correct had a semblance of 
earnestness been imparted to the operations. But 
the army of invasion halted at Osaka and envoys 
were sent to pronounce sentence upon Choshiu. 
These proceedings soon assumed a farcical aspect. 
On the one side, penal proclamations were sol- 
emnly addressed to the offending clan ; on the 
other, the clan paid not the smallest attention to 
them. A swift, strong blow was essential. The 
Shogun could have delivered it and the Choshiu 
men could not then have resisted it in the im- 
mediate sequel of their defeat by a foreign squad- 
ron. But the Shogun hesitated, and in the 
meanwhile the proximate cause of all his troubles 
became again active. 

Great Britain happened to be represented at 
that time in Japan by Sir Harry Parkes, a man 
of exceptional perspicacity and of military 
methods. He foresaw that the days of the Yedo 
Court were numbered ; he believed that the 
interests of his own country as well as those of 



Japan would be furthered by the Emperor's 
resumption of administrative power ; and the 
abundant energy of his disposition made it diffi- 
cult for him to trust the consummation of these 
things to the slow processes of time. The Em- 
peror had not yet ratified the treaties. They 
were understood to have his sanction, but the 
diplomatic formality of ratification was still 
wanting. Further, it appeared eminently desir- 
able from the British merchant's point of view 
that the import duties fixed by the treaties should 
be reduced from an average of fifteen per cent 
ad valorem to five per cent, and that the ports of 
Hyogo and Osaka should be opened at once to 
foreign trade, instead of nearly two years hence, 
as originally agreed. Now the Shogun owed 
a sum of two million dollars to the four Powers 
which had undertaken the Shimo-no-seki expe- 
dition. They had imposed a fine of three 
million dollars on Choshiu, and the Yedo Govern- 
ment had undertaken to pay the money. Two 
millions were still due. It occurred to Sir Harry 
Parkes that a good bargain might be struck by 
offering to forego this debt of two millions in 
exchange for the ratification of the treaties, the 
reduction of the tariff, and the speedy opening of 
Hyogo and Osaka. The proposition, being in 
the nature of a peaceful offer, might have been 
preferred without the cooperation of war-ships. 
But Sir Harry Parkes had learned to think that 
a display of force should occupy the fore- 



ground in all negotiations with Oriental States, 
and he possessed the faculty of persuading him- 
self that a naval demonstration might be repre- 
sented to the European public as a perfectly 
friendly prelude to a conference. He got together 
a fleet of British, French, and Dutch men-of- 
war, and sailed with them to Hyogo for the 
purpose of setting forth his project of amicable 

It will be remembered that the two crucial 
stages of the early treaty negotiations were the 
passage of foreign vessels into the Bay of Kana- 
gawa and the admission of an American Envoy 
to the Shoguns capital. Hyogo stood in the 
same relation to the imperial city of Kyoto that 
Kanagawa occupied towards Yedo. The arrival 
of a foreign squadron at Hyogo could not fail 
to disturb the nation even more than the appari- 
tion of Commodore Perry's vessels at Kanagawa 
had disturbed the Shogun's officials. Thus, when 
eight foreign war-ships cast anchor off Hyog5 
in November, 1866, and when the Foreign 
Representatives, speaking from out of the shadow 
of fifty cannon, set forth the details of their 
"friendly" exchange, all the troubles of foreign 
intercourse seemed to have been revived in an 
aggravated form. Here were the " barbarians " 
at the very portals of the Imperial Palace, and 
it did not occur to any one to suppose that such 
pomp and parade of instruments of war had 
been prepared for the mere amusement of 



Japanese sightseers, or that a refusal of the ami- 
cable bargain proposed in such terms would 
be followed by the quiet withdrawal of the 
menacing squadron, which, as the Japanese had 
fully learned at Kagoshima and Shimo-no-seki, 
could raze their towns and shatter their ships 
with the utmost ease. Choshiu rebels and all 
other domestic troubles were forgotten in the 
presence of this peril. The anti-foreign agi- 
tators, who had been virtually reduced to silence, 
raised their voices again in loud denunciation 
of the Shogun s incompetence to preserve the 
precincts of the sacred city from such trespasses. 
The Emperor himself shared the general alarm, 
and in a moment the Shogunate was confronted 
by a crisis of the gravest nature. A resolute 
attitude towards either the Imperial Court or 
the foreigners could alone have saved the situa- 
tion. But the Shogun s ministers pursued their 
usual temporising tactics. They sought to 
placate the Foreign Representatives by half- 
promises, and they urged the Imperial Court 
to concede something. 

The Emperor, brought once more under the 
influence of the anti-foreign party, took an 
extraordinary step at this stage. He dismissed 
from office and otherwise punished the ministers 
to whom the Shogun had entrusted the conduct 
of the negotiations with the Foreign Repre- 
sentatives. That was an open violation of the 
Yedo Government's administrative rights. Noth- 



ing remained for the Shogun except to resign. 
He adopted that course, submitting to the 
sovereign two addresses ; in one of which 
Prince Keiki was recommended as his successor ; 
in the other, the necessity of ratifying the trea- 
ties was set forth in strong terms. The Court, 
however, shrank from the responsibiHties in- 
volved in accepting this resignation. Answer 
was made to the Shogun that the treaties had 
the Imperial assent and that the Shogun was 
empowered to deal with them, but that since 
they contained many objectionable provisions, 
steps must be taken to revise them, after con- 
sultation with the feudatories, and that, under 
no circumstances, should Hyogo and Osaka be 
opened. It was an impracticable compromise, 
but the Shogun lacked courage to reject it. His 
ministers conceded the tariff changes proposed 
by the Foreign Representatives and further 
promised that Hyogo would be opened speedily. 
The Representatives therefore sailed away with 
a pleasant consciousness of success. They had 
come in their war-ships to propose a friendly 
exchange, the conditions being that in return 
for remitting two million dollars of an indemnity 
excessive from the outset they should obtain 
three important concessions. They went away 
having obtained two of the concessions and 
without having remitted a dollar of the 

The Shogun was now free to prosecute his 



interrupted expedition against Choshiu. But 
the opportunity to carry it to a successful issue 
no longer existed. The Choshiu men had 
found time to organise their defences, and to 
receive a large accession of strength from 
quarters permeated with dissatisfaction against 
the Yedo Government. Every operation under- 
taken by the Shoguns adherents ended in failure, 
and the Choshiu samurai found themselves in 
a position to assume the offensive. 

While the nation w^as watching this display 
of impotence and drawing conclusions fatal to 
the prestige of the Yedo Government, the 
Shogun died and was succeeded by Prince Keiki 

It has been shown that Prince Keiki was put 
forward by the anti-foreign conservatives as 
candidate for the succession to the Shogun s 
office in 1857, when the complications of for- 
eign intercourse were in their first stage of acute- 
ness. Yet no sooner did he become Shogun 
in 1866 than he remodelled the army on 
French lines, engaged English officers to or- 
ganise a navy, sent his brother to the Paris 
Exposition, and altered many of the forms 
and ceremonies of his Court so as to bring 
them into accord with Occidental fashions. 
This contrast between the politics he repre- 
sented when a candidate for office and the 
practice he adopted on succeeding to power 
nine years later, furnished an apt illustration 



of the change that had come over the spirit 
of the time. The most bigoted of the ex- 
clusionists were now beginning to abandon all 
idea of at once expelling foreigners and to think 
mainly of acquiring the best elements of their 

Pressing for immediate settlement when Keiki 
became Shogun were two questions, the trouble 
with Choshiu and the opening of Hyogo to 
foreign trade. In the eyes of the great majority 
of the feudatories, notably the Satsuma chief, the 
former problem was the more important ; in 
the eyes of the Shogun, the latter. Twice the 
Emperor was memorialised in urgent terms to 
sanction the convention providing for the open- 
ing of Hyogo at the beginning of 1868, and at 
length he reluctantly consented. At the same 
time an edict was obtained imposing severe pen- 
alties on Choshiu. The former provoked a fresh 
ebullition among the anti-foreign politicians ; the 
latter had a result still more disastrous to the 
Tokugawa, for it united against them the great 
clans of Satsuma and Choshiu. 

This is one of the turning-points of Japan's 
modern history. A few words are needed to 
make it intelligible. 

In spite of the generally hostile sentiments 
entertained towards each other by the Satsuma 
and Choshiu clans, each comprised a number of 
exceptionally gifted men whose ambition was to 
join the forces of the two fiefs for the purpose of 



unifying the Empire under the rule of the Kyoto 
Court. Prominent among these reformers on 
the Satsuma side were Saigo and Okubo, while 
on the Ch5shiu side were Kido and Sanjo, — all 
four destined to play great parts in the drama of 
their country's new career. Saigo and Okubo, in 
common with the bulk of the Satsuma sa?nurai, 
entertained, at the outset, strongly conservative 
ideas with regard to foreign intercourse, but such 
views, as has been shown, were not shared by the 
Satsuma chief and his principal vassals. The 
Satsuma leaders, in fact, tended to liberalism. 
Choshiu, on the contrary, was permeated by anti- 
foreign prejudice. Hence anything like hearty 
coalition between the two clans seemed impos- 
sible, and the breach grew wider after 1863; 
for the bombardment of Kagoshima by a British 
squadron in that year having finally convinced all 
classes in Satsuma of the hopelessness of resisting 
foreign intercourse, they made no secret of their 
progressive principles, and were consequently 
regarded as unpatriotic renegades by the Choshiu 
samurai. Events accentuated the difference. 
The Choshiu batteries in 1863 fired on and 
destroyed a Satsuma steamer laden with cotton 
for foreign markets ; the Satsuma men took a 
leading part in resisting Choshiu's attempt to re- 
enter Kyoto in 1864. Nothing seemed less 
likely than a union of such hostile elements. 
But Choshiu's turn to receive a convincing object 
lesson came in 1865, when a foreign fleet attacked 



Shimo-no-seki and demonstrated Japanese help- 
lessness to resist Western weapons. At the same 
time two youths of the Choshiu clan, Ito and 
Inouye/ returning from England, whither they 
had been sent to study means of expelling for- 
eigners, began to propagate vigorously among 
their clansmen the liberal convictions acquired 
on their travels. Choshiu, in short, was con- 
verted, as Satsuma had already been, and the 
advocates of national unification found at length 
an opportunity to bring the two clans together. 
They could not have succeeded, however, in 
engaging Satsuma to espouse any scheme hostile 
to the Tokugawa had not the latter's leading 
officials alienated the Satsuma chief, first by a 
display of groundless suspicion, and afterwards by 
deciding to send a second expedition against 
Choshiu, although Satsuma had been one of the 
leaders of the former expedition and had en- 
dorsed its results. These things had gradually 
cooled Satsuma's friendship towards the Yedo 
Court, and when, in 1867, the Shogun Keiki 
obtained a rescript authorising the severe punish- 
ment of Choshiu, Satsuma secretly entered into 
an alliance with the latter. Capital as the inci- 
dent was, its importance escaped the knowledge 
of the Yedo Court. But the Shogun soon had 
ample evidence that among all the feudatories 
he could no longer count certainly upon the 
loyalty of more than three or four, the whole of 

^ See Appendix, note 44. 



the rest having been estranged either by his 
treatment of the Choshiu question or by his 
radical innovations. 

It was at this juncture that Yodo, chief of 
Tosa, a clan scarcely less important than either 
Satsuma or Choshiu, addressed to the Shogun 
a remarkable memorial, setting forth the help- 
lessness of the position in which the Yedo 
Court now found itself, and urging that, in the 
interests of good government and in order that 
the nation's united strength might be available 
to meet the contingencies of its new career, the 
administrative power should be restored to the 
Emperor. Yodo was one of the great men 
of his time. Reference has been frequently 
made in these pages to the action taken or the 
attitude assumed by the " feudatories " at such 
and such a juncture. But it must be noted that 
the feudatories themselves — in other words, the 
feudal chiefs — exercised little influence on the 
current of events in Tokugawa days. From 
the Shogun downward, the nobles were ener- 
vated, incompetent, and often semi-imbecile 
individuals, educated in such a manner as to 
be without perception of the world of men 
and things, and sedulously taught to indulge 
their sensuous proclivities at the sacrifice of 
every useful capacity or wholesome impulse. 
There were exceptions, of course. Nariaki and 
Rekko of Mito, Shimazu Samuro of Satsuma, 
Shungaku of Yechizen, Kanso of Nabeshima, 



and Yodo of Tosa deservedly rank among the 
illustrious statesmen that prepared the way for 
the radical change of later days, or took an 
active part in promoting it. But it would be 
most erroneous to suppose that the Revolution 
of 1867 and all the reforms growing out of 
it were conceived, initiated, or furthered by 
the feudal chiefs. Among their immediate 
authors and promoters, numbering in all about 
threescore, not more than half a dozen names 
of great territorial magnates are to be found, 
and even these half-dozen acted a subordinate 
part. The makers of new Japan were samurai 
of comparatively low rank, men of extraordinary 
courage and almost reckless daring ; swayed 
by a passionate desire to see their country take 
an honourable place among the nations, but not 
uninfluenced by motives of personal ambition 
and not hampered by hostages already given 
to fortune. The only sense in which the 
nobility can be said to have assisted the Revo- 
lution was that their intellectual helplessness 
rendered them practically indifferent to their 
own selfish interests, and thus prevented them 
from opposing changes which certainly did 
not make for their advantage. Yodo of Tosa 
belonged to the very small minority of feudal 
chiefs who saw clearly whither events were 
tending ; yet he, too, owed much of his pro- 
gressive ideas to the influence of ardent young 
reformers among his vassals. 



The Tosa memorial, carried to Kyoto by 
Goto and Fukuoka/ gave definite form to a 
conviction which had already begun to present 
itself vaguely to the intelligence of the Shogun, 
He summoned a council of all the feudatories 
and high officials then in Kyoto, announced to 
them his decision, and, the next day, presented 
his resignation to the Emperor. 

This happened on the 14th of October, 1867. 
It must be ranked among the signal events of 
the world's history. During nearly three cen- 
turies the Tokugawa had wielded supreme 
administrative authority in Japan, holding in 
Yedo a Court which lacked no attribute of 
stately magnificence or autocratic strength. It 
is not the custom of humanity to voluntarily 
surrender the highest prizes attainable by 
brilliant statesmanship and military genius. No 
reason can be found, however, to doubt that 
Keiki's resignation was tendered in good faith, 
or that, had it been accepted in the same spirit, 
the great changes it suggested would have been 
consummated without bloodshed or disorder. But 
the clansmen of the south distrusted the Shdguris 
intention. A similar act on the part of his 
predecessor had resulted in restoring the auto- 
cratic power of the Yedo Court. They resolved, 
therefore, to give such prompt and decisive effect 
to Keiki's offer that the possibility of its with- 
drawal should be completely obviated. The 

* See Appendix, note 45 


Emperor being then only fifteen years of age, 
Imperial edicts were easily obtained by those 
having friends at Court. Secretly there was 
issued to Satsuma and Choshiu the following 
rescript : — 

Inasmuch as Minamoto Keiki, relying on the merits 
of his ancestors and on the power and dignity be- 
queathed to him, has grown arrogant and disloyal, 
doing to death our good and faithful subjects and 
often refusing to observe our commands ; and inas- 
much as he did not hesitate to alter and even reverse 
orders issued by the late Emperor; and inasmuch as 
without compunction he has led the people to the 
edge of an awful abyss ; and inasmuch as the Divine 
Nation, because of his crimes, is on the eve of a great 
disaster; now, therefore, we, who are the father and 
mother of our people, since we cannot choose but 
punish this traitor, so that the spirit of the late 
Emperor may be appeased and vengeance done upon 
the nation's worst enemy, hereby declare our will that 
the traitor Keiki be destroyed, and that you, to whom 
this command is addressed, accomplish the great deed 
and replace the national affairs on a firm foundation 
of lasting peace and glory. 

The secrecy in which the Shogun's enemies 
were able to envelop their proceedings indicates 
the strength of their position. Not only did the 
alliance between Satsuma and Choshiu escape 
the observation of the Yedo authorities, but even 
the issue of the above edict remained unknown 
to the public for several years. It was a docu- 
ment obviously dictated by unreasoning hostility : 



none of its charges could have been substantiated, 
nor can any meed of disinterested patriotism be 
accorded to those that compiled it. 

The procedure of a Court capable of framing 
such harsh edicts can easily be inferred. All offi- 
cials connected with the Tokugawa or suspected 
of sympathy with them were ruthlessly expelled 
from office in Kyoto, and the Shoguri s troops 
were deprived of the custody of the Palace gates 
by methods which verged upon the use of armed 
force. In the face of such provocation, Reiki's 
earnest effi^rts to restrain the indignation of his 
vassals and adherents failed. He was obliged to 
lead them against Kyoto. One defeat, however, 
sufficed to restore his resolution against blood- 
shed. He retired to Yedo, and subsequently 
made unconditional surrender to the forces of his 
enemies, now known as the " Imperial Army." 
This part of the story need not detain the reader. 
The Yedo Court consented to lay aside its dig- 
nities and to be stripped of its administrative 
authority, but all the Tokugawa vassals and adher- 
ents did not prove equally placable. There was 
resistance in the northern provinces ; there was an 
attempt to set up a rival candidate for the Throne 
in the person of an Imperial Prince who presided 
over the Uyeno Monastery in Yedo ; and there 
was a wild essay on the part of the admiral of 
the Shoguri' s fleet to establish a republic in the 
island of Yezo, But these were mere ripples on 
the surface of the broad stream which set towards 
VOL. III. — 1 6 241 


the peaceful overthrow of the dual system of 
government and ultimately towards the fall of 
feudalism itself. 

It will be observed that in the edict quoted 
above no explicit reference is made to the ques- 
tion of foreign intercourse, A seclusionist, read- 
ing between the lines, might have detected some 
covert allusion to the subject ; but, at the same 
time, the contrast between such marked reticence 
and the outspoken denunciations of the previous 
Emperor's rescripts, must have forced itself upon 
the attention of every one perusing the document. 
The 2.nti-Shogun movement had seemed originally 
to derive its main force from the nation's anti- 
foreign mood. Yet the " alien-expelling " sen- 
timent did not figure at all upon the stage where- 
on were acted the last episodes in the drama of 
the Shogunate's destruction. The reader has 
doubtless traced the gradual differentiation that 
took place with regard to this sentiment. On 
the one hand, those whose position and strength 
invested their judgment with serious responsi- 
bility, as the Satsuma and Choshiu clans, had 
been taught by vivid object-lessons the futility of 
open resistance to foreign intercourse. On the 
other, the camp-following class, which consisted 
of unemployed samurai and ignorant adventurers 
without any stake in the preservation of public 
peace, had ceased to wield appreciable influence, 
though they clung tenaciously to the traditional 
prejudice against everything alien, and stood ready 



to sacrifice their own lives or the lives of other 
people in the cause of *' patriotism " as they in- 
terpreted it. As for the Imperial Court, it re- 
flected at any given time the convictions of the 
coterie of nobles that happened to be then para- 
mount. Had the Emperor Komei lived a few 
years longer, it is possible that the views to which 
he had been committed by various edicts issued 
in his name while the " alien-expelling " party 
dominated the situation in Kyoto, might have 
hampered any departure in a liberal direction. 
But he died early in 1867, and was succeeded 
by a youth of fourteen, who neither owed obli- 
gation to continuity of record nor took direct 
part in the management of State affairs. Seven 
noblemen, representing the Imperial nucleus of 
the anti-foreign element, had fled to Choshiu 
in the immediate sequel of the intrigue of 
the forged rescript mentioned above, and had 
been effectually converted to liberalism by the 
events that occurred during their sojourn in 
the south. These men,* on their return to 
Kyoto in 1867, supported the moderate policy 
of their former opponents, and it resulted that 
the Court fell completely under the sway of 
liberal views. 

Another reason for conciliating foreigners was 
found in the difficulties and embarrassments that 
faced the organisers of the new Japanese polity. 
They had to unravel such troublesome domestic 

* See Appendix, note 46. 



problems that they not only shrank from supple- 
menting them by foreign complications, but were 
even disposed to place some reliance on the good 
will of Great Britain and of the United States ^ as 
a means of strengthening their position. One of 
the first acts of the newly organised Government 
was to invite the Foreign Representatives to 
Kyoto, where they were received in audience by 
the Emperor, and shortly afterwards a decree 
was promulgated, announcing the sovereign's re- 
solve to have amicable relations with foreign 
nations, and declaring that any Japanese subject 
thereafter guilty of violent behaviour towards 
a foreigner would not only act in opposition 
to the Imperial command, but also be guilty 
of impairing the dignity and good faith of the 
nation in the eyes of the Powers with which 
His Majesty had pledged himself to maintain 
friendship. A more signal reversal of the anti- 
foreign policy could not have been accom- 
plished. Two years previously the appearance 
of foreign vessels off Hyogo had thrown the 
nation into consternation and tumult lest the 
precincts of the sacred city of Kyoto should 
be invaded by alien feet. Now, the Emperor 
actually invited foreigners to the Palace, and, 
with unprecedented condescension, allowed them 
to see him face to face. 

Some element of abruptness must always be 
suggested by a signal metamorphosis of sentiment. 

^ See Appendix, note 47. 



The conversion of Japan's Court and aristocracy 
to pro-foreign doctrines usually perplexes readers 
of her annals. They find its methods sudden 
and its motives obscure. The facts have there- 
fore been set dov^n here with minuteness some- 
what disproportionate to the general scheme of 
these volumes' historical retrospect. Perhaps 
the most intelligible and comprehensive state- 
ment of the change is that whereas, in 1867, the 
nation's unique impulse was to reject foreign inter- 
course absolutely and unconditionally, its absorbing 
purpose in 1867 was to assimilate the material 
elements of Western civilisation as rapidly and 
thoroughly as possible. The ultimate bases of 
the two policies were preservation by isolation 
and protection by mimicry. But no Japanese of 
the liberal school admitted any idea of imitation 
for the sake of safety. He saw only what his 
country had lost by seclusion, and he thought 
only of employing every energy to repair the in- 
jury she had suffered and to equip her for recover- 
ing her due place among the Powers of the 
world. There remained, it is true, a small party 
still anchored to the old faith that to admit the 
foreigner was to welcome a plotter against the 
Empire's welfare. But to the principal of these 
conservatives the wholesome medicine of foreign 
travel was subsequently administered, working an 
effectual cure. As for the still smaller section, 
the men who had imagined that if they acquired 
the foreigner's proficiency in building and navi- 



gating ships, organising and equipping armies 
and manufacturing and utilising weapons of 
war, they might again close the treaty ports 
and revert to the old isolation, they soon per- 
ceived that there is no element of finality in 
civilisation, and that to turn their backs upon 
the Occident after brief acquaintance would be 
to fall behind it again in the race of progress 
and become as impotent as ever to resist alien 
aggression or dictation. 

There will never again be in Japan, so far as 
human judgment can discern, any effective reac- 
tion against Occidental civilisation or Occidental 
intercourse. In fact, it may be asserted that 
from the day when the Shogunate fell, Japan 
ceased to be an Oriental nation. The term 
" Oriental " is not used here in a disparaging 
sense. So far as Japan is concerned, the reader 
of these pages knows that she possessed a civilisa- 
tion of her own ; a refined, elaborate, and highly 
developed civilisation, many phases of which 
suffer nothing, if indeed they do not gain, by 
comparison with the civilisation of the foremost 
Western nations. Therefore this epithet " Ori- 
ental " is employed with reference solely to the 
conservatism which has come to be regarded as 
a distinctive feature of East-Asian peoples ; the 
conservatism that makes them cling to their old 
institutions, their old methods, their old laws, 
their old judicial procedure, their old means of 
communication, their old social organisations, and 



their old administrative machinery. From the 
trammels of such conservatism Japan shook her- 
self finally free in 1867. The soundness of her 
instincts does not seem to have been impaired by 
long exile from international competition or by 
long lack of invigorating contact with foreign 
intellects. She knew the good when she saw it, 
and she chose it without racial prejudice or false 
shame. It is possible, of course, to set forth an 
imposing catalogue of achievements verifying 
these assertions ; a catalogue of laws compiled, 
of judicial tribunals organised, of parliamentary 
institutions introduced, of railways built, of 
telegraphs erected, of postal services established, 
of industrial enterprises developed, of lines of 
steamers opened, of an educational system started 
of a newspaper press created, and so forth. There 
will be occasion presently to make special allusion 
to some of these things. But it is not to statis- 
tics that the reader's attention is invited here 
so much as to the broad fact that Japan has dif- 
ferentiated herself completely from " Oriental 
Nations " in the usually accepted sense of the 
term, and that her aspirations, her modes of 
thought, her impulses, her ideals, and her tests 
of conduct must now be classed, not altogether 
indeed but certainly in the main, as Occidental. 
She may be regarded as a Western nation situ- 
ated on the confines of the Far East ; a nation 
now, for the second time in its history, giv- 
ing free play to the instincts of progress, of 



enterprise, and of daring which, conspicuously 
displayed three centuries ago, were thereafter 
paralysed by causes for which the Christian 
Occident, not the " pagan Orient," was primarily 





Note i. — Mr. B. A. Chamberlain, in "Things Japan- 
ese," calls it "an innocent, not to say insipid, little jeu de societe^ 
such as might suggest itself to a party of school girls." He 
can find no explanation of the vogue it enjoyed except that 
Japan was " in her childhood, — her second childhood." 

Note 2. — Fide " The Flowers of Japan and the Art of 
Floral Arrangement " by Mr. J. Conder, an exhaustive and 
sympathetic work which clearly sets forth the principles and 
practice of the art, and from which many of the details here 
summarised are taken. 

Note 3. — The world of covetousness, the world of con- 
cupiscence, and the world without love. 

Note 4. — The full names of the bucolic mime and the 
monkey mime were respectively Den-gaku-no-No and Saru- 
gaku-no-No^ or the accomplishment of Den-gaku and of Saru- 
gaku; and since every feature distinctive of the original 
Den-gaku and Saru-gaku disappeared in the new development 
of the fourteenth century, it was natural that the names also 
should be abandoned. 

Note 5. — The descendants of these celebrated No dan- 
cers and writers called themselves " Kwanze " from genera- 
tion to generation, a name formed by combining the two first 
syllables of Kwanami and Seami. 

Note 6. — A celebrated Chinese warrior who saved his 
sovereign's life by a splendid display of courage. The chorus 
compares Benkei to Hankai. 

Note 7. — A pilgrim who has made at least three previous 
pilgrimages, acts as pioneer of each band. 



Note 8. — These four lines are taken bodily from a stanza 
by the blind poet Semi-maru. They are introduced simply 
because their celebrity has associated them in the minds of 
educated people with Osaka in Omi — not the city of Osaka — 
to which the chorus next refers. Japanese poetry abounds 
in allusions of this kind, which often defy translation, and can 
never be appreciated by foreigners. It should be understood 
that the chorus at this stage describes the journey of the pil- 
grims, who pace the stage rhythmically meanwhile. 

Note g. — Another instance of the extreme difficulty of 
rendering Japanese poetry into English. In the original 
" Itatori " and " woodman " are connected by a jeu-de-mot 
which disappears altogether in the translation. 

Note io. — There is here another play upon words; quite 

Note n. — Here again the force is lost. "Ata," the first 
part of the name " Ataka," signifies " enemy," and solely for 
the sake of qualifying that significance the allusion to flowers 
attacked by the wind is introduced. 

Note 12. — He is called Hogwan in the original, but for 
the convenience of English readers the name " Yoshitsune" is 
here used. 

Note 13. — A celebrated temple. 

Note 14. — The Buddhists regard and «w as the quintes- 
sential sounds. The first sound made by the new-born babe is 
a ; the last articulation of the dying, urn. 

Note 15. — The God of War, supposed to be the special 
tutelary deity of the Minamoto family. 

Note 16. — • One part of the chorus interprets here the 
thoughts of Yoshitsune ; another part, those of Benkei. 

Note 17. — Yoshitsune owed his misfortunes to slanders 
whispered in Yoritomo's ear by Kajiwara Kagetoki. 

Note 18. — The first line of a couplet. 

Note ig. — The last three lines are part of the Buddhist 
Tennen-mai (life-lengthening dance), which Benkei learned when 
an acolyte in the Hiyeizan monastery. 

Note 20. — Mr. B. A. Chamberlain, in his " Classical 
Poetry of the Japanese," has given some admirable renderings 
of celebrated Kyogen. 



Note 21. — This term, originally used in the sense of a 
gathering, an assembly, had now become, and remains to this 
day, a synonym for the place where the assembly took place. 

Note 22. — This rule has one exception. When a wrest- 
ler finds his girdle grasped on either side, he is at liberty to pass 
his hands under his adversary's arms and give an upward heave, 
thus applying a breaking strain at a point midway between the 
adversary's elbows and shoulders. The most celebrated wrest- 
ler that ever lived in Japan, Raiden Tamayemon (1625), is said 
to have snapped the bones of more than one opponent by this 
method, and he was ultimately forbidden to employ it. The 
strength required for such a feat is scarcely conceivable. It is 
recorded of this same Raiden that, strenuous as were his 
methods in the ring, he once shed tears of regret on throwing a 
man to whom defeat meant ruin. 

Note 23. — This theory is thus expressed in Japan: 
Taikyoku riyo-gi wo shozu ; riyo-gi shizo wo shbzu ; shizo hak- 
kwa wo shozu (From chaos the two principles are born ; from 
the two principles, the four forms; from the four forms, the 
eight diagrams). 

Note 24. — This lady, Kasuga, deservedly enjoyed high 
favour. When lyemitsu was in danger of being set aside for the 
sake of his younger brother, Kasuga saved the situation by carry- 
ing the intelligence to lyeyasu, who was then living in retire- 
ment at Shizuoka. She eluded the vigilance of the intrigues in 
Yedo by pretexting a pilgrimage to the shrines of Ise. 

Note 25. — His consort was the daughter of an eminent 
advocate of Shinto^ and through her this influence made itself 
felt in the Yedo Court circle. 

Note 26. — Oshio Heihachiro. He and his followers set 
fire to Osaka, and after a brave struggle were defeated, Oshio 
committing suicide. 

Note 27. — For an admirable resume of these writers' views 
see an essay on "The Revival of Pure Shintd " by the great- 
est authority on Japan and the Japanese, Sir E. Satow, in 
Volume ni. of " The Asiatic Society's Proceedings." 

Note 28. — Historians have expressed various opinions 
about this remarkable statesman's foreign policy. A letter 
written by him four years before he became Tairo places the 


matter beyond all doubt. " To close the country," he wrote, 
" is not the way to promote the national prosperity and peace. 
The coast defences are quite inadequate. There are no war- 
ships fit to cope with foreign vessels. Open the country to 
the strangers. Make peace with them. In the meanwhile we 
can complete our preparations so as to have some competence 
to assert ourselves. If the Americans want our coal, let them 
have some : there is plenty in Kiushiu. If water and fuel are 
needed, give them : they cost little. It is right to supply the 
wants of the needy. Commerce is advisable. It can be carried 
on through the Dutch. Treat the next comers as the Dutch 
were treated. Build steamers and war-ships. Train men in 
the art of navigation, so that we can learn the conditions of 
foreign nations without obtaining our knowledge through the 
Dutch. Save money and spend it on the navy and the army. 
But strictly interdict strange religions. America and Russia 
have made immense strides in navigation, but our people are 
bright and quick, and, if well trained, will find no difficulty in 
competing with foreigners. Provided that our country is re- 
lieved from the threat of foreign invasion and secured in the 
enjoyment of peace, the gods will excuse a few changes of 
ancient laws and customs. . . . What presses most is to free 
the people's minds from anxiety. Iron walls are useless unless 
the nation is united and calm of mind." This letter, addressed 
to the Shogun's minister, looks commonplace to-day, but read 
by the light of the time when it was written, it shows wonder- 
ful perspicacity. From the views it expresses li Kamon-no- 
Kami never departed. He died for them. 

Note 29. — Mr. Townsend Harris must be excepted from 
this statement. His appreciation of Japanese politics amounted 
almost to an intuition ; partly, perhaps, because he did not 
consider deceit inseparable from all Oriental dealings. Alone 
he maintained the bona fides of the Shogun's ministers from first 
to last. 

Note 30. — Among them were men destined afterwards to 
take a prominent part in reconciling the nation to the very 
policy they then opposed so bitterly ; as Prince Sanjo, Prince 
Konoye, and Prince Madenokoji. 

Note 31. — Jnsei (1854-60) was the name of the era 



when these events occurred. The judicial trial was thence- 
forth known as " the great judgment of Jnsei." 

Note 32. — This place is now the site of a large arsenal. 
The beautiful park still survives and attracts many visitors, but 
the mansion where, forty years ago, Rekko and his clansmen 
discussed the possibility of setting the narrowest limits to for- 
eign intercourse, is now the site of a big factory, telling how 
completely Japan has adopted foreign civilisation. 

Note 33. — The samurai that committed these acts of 
blood had abandoned their houses and their paid service, and 
devoted themselves solely to a crusade in their country's cause. 

Note 34. — Samurai who, as described in a previous 
chapter, abandoned their feudal service and became a species of 
knight errant for the purpose of achieving some aim, generally 

Note 35. — Of the eighteen ronin who assassinated li, one 
was killed in the struggle ; one, who fled with the Tairo's 
head, was incapacitated by his hurts and committed suicide ; 
three fell wounded ; eight surrendered themselves, and only five 

Note 36. — Yoshida Torajiro, announcing in a letter to 
his father his intention of forming a band to kill Manabe, the 
Shoguns delegate to Kyoto, said : " If I die in the attempt, 
death may be considered as life." 

Note 37. — Foreigners settled originally at Kanagawa and 
subsequently moved to Yokohama, two or three miles down 
the bay. 

Note 38. — It is just to note that their suspicion was 
never shared by the United States Representative, Mr. Town- 
send Harris. His belief in the sincerity of the Japanese officials 
never wavered, and when, after the murder of Mr. Heusken, 
which Mr. Harris must have felt more keenly than any of his 
colleagues, they decided to move their Legations from Yedo to 
Yokohama as a protest against the supposed duplicity and inef- 
ficiency of the Shoguns officials, the American Representative 
remained at his post, and his declared view of the circumstances 
of the time showed a clearness of insight that contrasts forcibly 
with the ignorance of other foreigners. 

Note 39. — Joint Note on the Political Situation and State 


of Affairs in Japan, drawn up at two conferences of the For- 
eign Representatives held in Yedo on the nineteenth and 
twenty-first of January, i86l. 

Note 40. — British State Papers 1855-70. 

Note 41. — The lady was not purposely spared. A sword- 
stroke aimed at her neck shore off a feather in her hat. This 
attempt to kill a woman excited much indignation among for- 
eigners. But the writer of these pages has been assured by two 
of the samurai directly concerned in the affair, that the idea of 
a female being among the party of foreigners did not present 
itself for a moment to the men of the Satsuma escort. A for- 
eign woman in a riding habit and a foreign man in a coat 
offered no points for discrimination to Japanese soldiers entirely 
without knowledge of aliens and their costumes. 

Note 42. — The foreign public knew nothing of these 
things. They imagined that the Sh'ogun had gone to Kyoto to 
receive investiture at the Emperor's hands. 

Note 43. — The principal objection urged against it is that 
as the Straits of Shimo-no-seki are Japanese inland waters, for- 
eign ships had no right to be there, and consequently could not 
justly complain of the treatment they received. But even if it 
be admitted that to open fire on a vessel flying a friendly flag is 
a legitimate method of remonstrating against her illegal presence, 
the reader will have seen, from what has been recorded above, 
that the act of the Choshiu gunners was not a simple protest 
against trespass, but the deliberate inauguration of an attempt 
to terminate foreign intercourse. 

Note 44. — Now Marquis Ito and Count Inouye, two of 
the leading statesmen of Japan. 

Note 45. — Afterwards Count Goto and Count Fukuoka, 
prominent statesmen of the Meiji era. 

Note 46. — The most prominent among these seven nobles 
was Prince Sanj5, afterwards prime minister under the Meiji 

Note 47. — France had always shown herself particularly 
friendly to the Tokugawa, and was therefore regarded with 
some distrust by the founders of the new system. 


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